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PM 'did not raise Google tax row'


David Cameron is pushing for international action to tackle tax avoidance schemes

David Cameron is pushing for international action to tackle tax avoidance schemes

PA Wire/Press Association Images

David Cameron is pushing for international action to tackle tax avoidance schemes

Google's controversial tax affairs were not raised by David Cameron when the internet giant's boss joined Downing Street talks about tackling avoidance schemes, Number 10 said.

The Prime Minister used the quarterly meeting of his Business Advisory Group to urge big firms to back his push for international action to crack down on the use of tax havens.

But he did not directly raise MPs' fury about the sums Google pays in the UK with the search engine's executive chairman Eric Schmidt - who is a member of the high-level panel - or hold any separate talks with him.

The California-based firm was last week branded devious, calculating and unethical over efforts to shelter its multibillion-pound profits from UK taxes, during a stormy hearing before the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Cameron plans to use the G8 summit being hosted by the UK in Northern Ireland next month to push for co-ordinated global action to tackle "the scourge of tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance".

A Downing Street source said that during the discussions - the details of which are not usually disclosed - the premier "did take the opportunity to set out his G8 agenda on tax and transparency".

He said he "hoped people would support the reforms he was proposing" and that businesses should pay the tax they owed but his comments were "not directed at anyone specifically". Number 10 said there was "broad agreement" that any action would need to be taken on a multilateral approach.

Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged at the weekend to write new rules to tackle corporate tax dodgers if he wins the next election, even if there is no international consensus for action.

Mr Schmidt was said to be among those who backed Mr Cameron's G8 approach.

Ahead of the meeting, the Prime Minister wrote to the leaders of Britain's offshore tax havens stressing the need to "get our own houses in order". In a message to 10 crown dependencies and British overseas territories Mr Cameron said he backed their right to be low tax jurisdictions but insisted that rules needed to be set and enforced fairly. The Prime Minister's letter calling for more transparency about tax information and the ownership of companies was sent to leaders in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Anguilla, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

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