MPs have defended their decision not to back a bid to slash the so-called ‘tampon tax’ on sanitary products.
All of the female MPs in the Portsmouth area bar one voted against a bid to scrap the five per cent VAT rate on the items.
Tampons and sanitary products are a necessity not a luxury.Havant MP Alan Mak
The issue is embroiled in controversy as sanitary products are classified as ‘non-essential luxury items’ – yet men’s razors and even Jaffa Cakes are exempt from VAT.
But the Labour proposal was thrown out through a vote which went 305 to 287 – and treasury minister David Gauke said the issue would need to be taken up with the European Commission as the UK alone doesn’t have the power to scrap it.
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘I am all in favour of completely removing tax on sanitary products, I spoke about this during the last government.
‘But this was the wrong route.
‘The fact is we are much more likely to get this as a package of improvements from the EU, as opposed to going full guns blazing on one issue.’
Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond said: ‘The UK cannot unilaterally zero-rate any item from VAT without each of the 27 other EU members, and the European Commission, giving its approval. Sadly, the Labour amendment misrepresented the legal position on this, and the UK government would end up in court if it just cut the rate without first securing agreement at the EU – hence the reason why I voted against it.
Havant MP Alan Mak said: ‘Tampons and sanitary products are a necessity, not a luxury. EU law currently prevents the government from abolishing VAT on tampons, but we will be lobbying the European Commission and other EU countries on this to see if we can agree a change.’
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes did not vote – but supports changes being made.
She said: ‘It is clearly ridiculous that women’s sanitary products are taxed as luxury goods, and I agree that needs to be changed.’
Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery said: ‘In no way can a sanitary product be described as anything other than essential, and I very much hope that progress is quickly made to sort out this anomaly.’
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt was unavailable for comment.