Opening Bell: British MPs ask questions after Google ruling, OPEC countries up production, Facebook's potential tax issues

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British MPs have launched an inquiry into the UK tax system after regulators have been accused of being too lenient when allowing Google to settle a tax dispute with the payment of €171m.

The House of Commons Treasury committee is exploring whether changes need to be made to the British corporation tax amid concerns that Google is paying an effective tax rate of 3%.

The inquiry is not centered on Google, it is concerned with the broader issue of the UK's shrinking corporate tax base.

Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the committee said, "A corporation’s duty to shareholders will be to minimise its tax liability. It should be the duty of those making tax policy to find better ways to limit the elasticity. Google may be the symptom, but it is not the cause."


Facebook's operations in the UK and Ireland have been warned that the company faces "potential tax reassessments" dating back as far as ten years ago.

The company said in regulatory filings that it will fight against "any and all such claims" - but it also recognised that it may face a "possible, but not probable" issue with its tax payments.

This fresh examination follows the recent investigation into Google's taxes in the UK.


Oil production is likely to continue to increase as prices slipped by 6% yesterday to just above $30 per barrel.

The Iraqi oil ministry announced that it had pumped record volumes of crude oil last month. The Times (London) reports that officials in the country have indicated that this figure will continue to rise.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is also producing record levels of the energy source, and Iran has upped its production after international trade sanctions ended.

Russia is also pumping oil at levels not seen since the fall of the Soviet Union. 

OPEC officials said yesterday that "today's oil price is not sustainable," despite the fact that the cartel's members continue to increase production levels. OPEC countries hope that if the price of oil falls low enough more costly producers will cut their production levels.


Passengers flying to France today are being advised to check with their airline as air traffic controllers go on strike there.

A number of airlines have cancelled some flights - including Aer Lingus and Ryanair.

The strike is part of a wider, public service work stoppage in France.