The Chair of the PAC has corrected me. The hon. and learned Gentleman is absolutely right; it is almost a double whammy. Customers of such companies pay for their services in good faith and expect, as both taxpayers and consumers, big companies to play fair by them and by the country in which they operate.
The PAC is not alone in worrying about how such companies organise themselves. Around the world, people and their Governments are questioning the loopholes and convoluted legal arrangements that create inaccurate descriptions of multinationals’ trading activities in individual countries. The problem is not confined to tech firms such as Google, but their massive global presence has exposed the fault lines of an old-fashioned tax structure that has not kept up with today’s online business world. Many of today’s high-tech household names were not always so big or so profitable. The investigation into Google began under the previous Labour Government, and the coalition Government continued the work to get on top of these relatively new business models, both nationally and internationally. Tax policy is not easy. Once one tax loophole is closed, another one opens up.