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MP compares Google to publisher

Google's UK tax avoidance has been likened to the actions of News International by an MP.

Jim Sheridan said he had been left with a sense of "deja vu" as he listened to the multinational company's excuses for not paying corporation tax in the UK despite extensive operations here.

The Labour MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North made the accusation to Google's head of UK public policy, Sarah Hunter, as she gave evidence in a session of the Commons Culture Committee's inquiry into support for the creative economy.

News International previously came under the scrutiny of the culture committee, with a damning report finding that its boss, Rupert Murdoch, was unfit to run a major international corporation.

Mr Sheridan said: "I have to say there's a touch of deja vu in this committee room because there is a parallel I can see between what Google is doing and the activities of News International, and we will get to the end of the road some day and I can see that coming along the road if you don't change your ways."

"I have to say, News International has been accused of illegal activity," Ms Hunter replied, before the session moved on to another topic.

She was earlier grilled by Paul Farrelly MP, who described the search engine as "public enemy number one" since it emerged that it, along with a number of other big-name companies such as Starbucks, Amazon and Facebook, is paying little or no UK tax.

Mr Farrelly, Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, said the company's royalties were paid to Google Ireland Holdings indirectly through Google Netherlands Holdings, with further amounts going to Google Bermuda.

Ms Hunter said: "I'm not an accountant and I'm not in a position to go through in detail these kind of questions. What I said was, and I'll say it again, is that we pay all the taxes that we are asked to pay in this country, and we obey by all the laws in the country and other countries we operate in."

Asked about criticism by groups such as UK Uncut and comments by Vince Cable that by minimising tax to such an extent Google is ducking its social responsibility, Ms Hunter argued that the company has helped many small businesses sell their products through the site.

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