We need to clamp down on net abuse

Bassetlaw MP John Mann
Bassetlaw MP John Mann

I have previously raised in this column the scandal of Starbucks paying less tax for the whole of their UK operation than an independent café on Bridge Street.

It is an obscene joke. How can Parliament allow this to continue, and why is Government doing so little? I have applied for a major Parliamentary debate for this month in order to allow a full debate on what should be done.

Amazon paid taxes of only £2.4 million on UK sales of £4.2bn – less than the £2.5m it received in Government grants. Thames Water paid no corporation tax last year and pocketed a £5m credit from the Treasury.

This is the pattern that is emerging, that the taxpayer is actually subsidising these companies.

Many, like Facebook set up their operations abroad, for example in Ireland.

Yet we are bailing out the Irish economy with around £10 billion of loans because of the mess it is in.

This is the economics of the mad house.

In an age of austerity, maximizing Government income is essential.

Every pound lost through tax avoidance could have been spent on protecting public services – yet last year HM Revenue & Customs wrote off £5 billion as uncollectable.

The deal with Vodaphone was particularly appalling, yet the official who negotiated it now has a consultancy which includes Vodaphone as one of it its customers.

You could not make it up! In China he would have been put up against the wall and shot.

Well, I am not advocating this as an approach but we should stop rewarding and encouraging corporate tax dodgers.

HM Customs and Excise estimates the overall total of uncollected taxes to be £32 billion while many tax experts believe the true figure is double that at £64 billion.

This is more than the entire national UK education budget for nurseries, schools colleges and universities.

It is much more than the defence budget of our country. These figures in tax dodging are extraordinary.

Yet as you and I know, anyone who tries to avoid tax in Worksop will be clobbered. The little person pays their taxes, but some of the rich and wealthy can always find ways to avoid paying theirs.

It is about time that we took proper action to ensure that everyone pays their fair share. If the big businesses and wealthy individuals pay their fair share then everyone else can pay less.

At the moment the opposite is happening, and the rich are getting even richer.

I spoke in the debate about child exploitation on the internet. I will not shock readers by going through any of the graphic details, but it is horrific. Sickening!

This time I have a good word to say about the internet companies, who seem to be ahead of Governments in how to deal with this filth.

Obviously it damages their brand to have any association with it.

There are controls put in systems and complex algorithms created to block these images, but the internet is borderless, making national laws clumsy.

We need to do more and we can do more, both prosecuting those who download this stuff and using the internet providers to track down those who create it and abuse children across the world in the process.

I have helped set up a group of the top internet providers in the world to help sort this out, meeting at their headquarters in Silicon Valley and we are getting somewhere in setting up internet software principles that can deal with any abuse on the internet.

We need to complete this work while we are dealing with responsive companies and it is a top priority o0ver the next two years.