The IoD: Denying social responsibility

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I took part in the World this Weekend today on BBC Radio 4. (The link is here, for the next few days, start 20 minutes into the programme). The debate was on the claimed loss to the Exchequer from companies leaving the UK.

My contribution followed that of Richard Baron, head of tax at the Institute of Directors. I have to be candid: Baron's comments were absolutely farcical. First of all he showed no recognition that the planned change in taxation of foreign dividends has happened because business has asked for it. Second he defended tax competition as if it is inevitable, and as if it were the same as the competition between supermarkets. Third he suggested shareholder value has much greater status than any duty to the state. He showed no understanding at all that there might be a taxation dimension to corporate social responsibility.

I will be as polite as I can: he showed himself a person who has done no analysis, who has no comprehension and who has no understanding of the context in which business operates.

I would refer him to Simon Caulkin in the Observer today, who said:

Capitalism, as is now clear, has most to fear from capitalists.

He's right. John McFall MP who concluded the debate showed he did understand the issues. The root of this issue he said is the concept of fairness in taxation.