Jeremy Corbyn should be directing questions about the size of Google’s tax bill to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, David Cameron argued today in a fiery Commons clash.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon, Mr Cameron defended the deal which has seen the internet giant agree to pay £130million in back-taxes.
Mr Corbyn said the relatively small amount – calculated by some experts to equal just three per cent on Google’s UK profits - showed there is “one rule for big multi-national companies and another for ordinary small businesses and self-employed workers.”
The Prime Minister disputed the three per cent figure, and launched into a tirade against the previous Labour Government’s record on collecting taxes from multinational corporations.
Addressing Mr Corbyn across the Despatch Box, he said: “If like me he’s genuinely angry about what happened to Google under Labour can I tell him a few people he could call? Maybe he should start by calling Tony Blair – you can get him at JP Morgan. Call Gordon Brown, apparently you can get him at a Californian bond dealer called Pimco. Alastair Darling – I think he’s at Morgan Stanley but it’s hard to keep up. These are the people to blame for Google not paying their taxes, we’re the ones who got them to pay.”
The £130million deal was given a lukewarm reception when announced earlier this week.
Chancellor George Osborne called the agreement a “major success”, but Labour’s Meg Hillier, who chairs the influential Public Accounts Committee, tweeted: “Bet individual taxpayers wouldn’t get off as lightly as Google on back tax. Cosy deal. Will call HMRC and Google to @CommonsPAC to explain,”
Mr Corbyn pressed the Prime Minster over the deal, and read out a question from “a gentleman called Jeff” about the announcement.
He said “Now you might well laugh but Jeff actually speaks for millions of people when he says to me 'Can you ask the Prime Minister whether as a working man of over 30 years whether there is a scheme that I can join that pays the same rate of tax as Google and other large corporations'. What does the Prime Minister say to Jeff?”
Mr Cameron said Jeff was paying lower taxes thanks to the Tories, while “Google’s taxes are going up”.
He said: “No Government has done more than this one to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. No Government, and certainly not the last Labour government.”