In this video, I explain why I am against the ‘tampon tax’ and why it is one of the EU’s worst examples of sexual discrimination.
Here are the facts: On Monday, we had a debate in Parliament about removing the 5% rate of VAT on tampons and other female sanitary products. I supported that move and given that shaving materials and other products are zero rated it is particularly iniquitous that women should have to pay a premium for what is hardly a ‘luxury’ item. An amendment was put forward by a Labour MP to persuade the Chancellor to bring forward a plan to impress upon our EU partners that the tax should be abolished. I signed that amendment in support and spoke out against what I view as one of the worst forms of sexual discrimination within the EU.
The problem is that neither our Government nor our Chancellor have the power to simply change the tax rates on VAT. It is subject to EU legislation and needs the agreement of our 27 EU partners to bring about change. Although as a result of the debate, the Treasury Minister responded that he would not just speak to his EU counterparts about this, but would do so at the first opportunity and put forward a recommendation that the level of VAT on sanitary products could be reduced across the whole of the EU, not just the UK. In France for example it is as high as 20%.
So the Government is against the tampon tax, I am against the tampon tax and said so clearly. We are going to bring pressure on our EU partners where it can actually make a difference. On that basis, I was happy to support the Minister and it was not necessary to carry on with the amendment. Alas, Labour MPs then displayed a disgraceful degree of churlishness and forced a vote anyway, which did not exactly help their case.
But why let the facts get in the way of a good bit of Conservative MP bashing?
You can read the Hansard of my contribution to the debate on Monday 26 October 2016, here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151026/debtext/151026-0003.htm#15102633000183