MP Hugo Swire defends vote on 'tampon tax'
PUBLISHED: 06:30 12 November 2015
East Devon MP Hugo Swire has defended his decision not to back a proposal to challenge the 'tampon tax'.
Members of parliament last month voted against a move to compel the Government to cut tax on sanitary products - controversially classed as ‘non-essential luxury items’.
The Finance Bill amendment, which would have forced a negotiation with the European Union (EU) for a reduction in the five per cent VAT rate, was rejected by 305 to 287 votes.
HM Revenue and Customs says the VAT rate charged on the items is the lowest allowed under EU law.
The Government said change would need the agreement of every EU member state.
Mr Swire was named among MPs who voted against the challenge - saying ‘nothing would have changed’ if the ammendment had been carried.
However, the East Devon MP says he supports a campaign to cut VAT on women’s sanitary products.
He said EU law does not allow the Government to set a rate of tax on ‘luxury items’ below five per cent.
“I entirely support the campaign to abolish VAT on women’s sanitary products as it is clear that they are an essential item,” said Mr Swire.
“However, under EU laws, the UK is not able to levy a rate lower than five per cent on sanitary products.
“So had this amendment been carried, nothing would have changed as our parliament simply doesn’t have the power to alter this law.
“I personally don’t think that this is right and I am pleased that my ministerial colleagues have pledged to try and persuade the EU to change its position and so enable us to abolish VAT on these products.”