Review of tax treatment of Scottish Limited Partnerships

Part of Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:00 pm on 5th September 2016.

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Photo of Charlie Elphicke Charlie Elphicke Conservative, Dover 9:00 pm, 5th September 2016

The key issue is that we did know. As I recall, Apple had to report the situation in some investigation by the Senate in the United States. The Senate was wondering why very little tax had been paid by Apple in the United States. If my recollection is not correct, I am sure a fellow Member of this House will correct me. The issue is one of transparency. These things come to light because the US Senate holds an investigation, or some other enterprise or organisation, such as the Public Accounts Committee, carries out an investigation and starts asking questions.

In the previous Parliament, I myself went through the accounts of Google, Amazon and Starbucks and looked at what they were paying as a proportion of profits. That is why I think country-by-country reporting ought to be considered, and on an international basis. It is important that countries act together to make sure that the international tax system is suitably robust for the internet age.

The reason that that matters is that when large enterprises, big businesses and the elites do not pay tax, it affects small businesses. It is the small business rooted in our soil which employs our neighbours and pays its dues that suffers when the competitive advantage, the level playing field and the rule of law are warped in that way. That is my prime concern. Small businesses in my constituency in Dover and Deal are the lifeblood of my local economy and I want them to have a fair crack. I want the towns and regions of this great nation, England, that I represent, and Wales and Scotland to have a fair crack and to be able to come to the fore. Particularly in Brexit Britain, it is important that they are able to come to the fore, to be galvanised and to be part of the leadership of this nation. That is why we need a Britain that works for the 90%, which is the towns and regions of our nations, rather than for big business and the elite 10%. That is important and it is why we need a tax system that works for everyone.

I have been deeply concerned recently when looking at accounts in the car rental industry. Colleagues may recall that Avis was accused of imposing a Brexit tax on people renting its cars. I looked at its accounts and saw that Avis had paid no tax itself. It taxed its British customers but did not seem to pay any British corporation tax on its profits.