Readersforum's Blog

November 21, 2012

Charge Amazon, Starbucks and Google unpaid tax to fund libraries, says Winterson

Novelist Jeanette Winterson’s incendiary speech calls on companies to honour ‘moral duties’ and ‘do an Andrew Carnegie’.

By Alison Flood

A fiery Jeanette Winterson has called for the hundreds of millions of pounds of profit which Amazon, Starbucks and Google were last week accused of diverting from the UK to be used to save Britain’s beleaguered public libraries.

In an impassioned speech at the British Library this evening, the award-winning author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit said: “Libraries cost about a billion a year to run right now. Make it two billion and charge Google, Amazon and Starbucks all that back tax on their profits here. Or if they want to go on paying fancy lawyers to legally avoid their moral duties, then perhaps those companies could do an Andrew Carnegie and build us new kinds of libraries for a new kind of future in a fairer and better world?”

Winterson was referring to the meeting at parliament’s public accounts committee last Monday which saw executives from the three companies vigorously quizzed by MPs over their tax affairs, and accused of diverting UK profits to tax havens. Her lecture was to mark the 10th anniversary of the independent charity The Reading Agency, and was attended by fellow authors including David Nicholls, Julian Barnes, Joanna Trollope and Sarah Waters.

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