MPs have rejected a move by Labour to scrap the so-called “tampon tax” on women’s sanitary products.
An amendment to the Government’s Finance Bill that would have forced it to open negotiations with the EU on the 5 per cent VAT rate was rejected by 305 to 287 votes.
Ministers say that the rate of VAT on the sanitary products is the lowest allowed under European Union law.
The tax is controversial because other products, classified as “essentials”, can be zero-rated and untaxed.
Items like Jaffa Cakes, exotic meats like Crocodile, and edible cake decorations, are classed as “essential” on the basis that they are food.
David Gauke, a treasury minister, this morning however said he sympathised with the amendment and would raise the issue with the European Commission.
Some Eurosceptic Conservative MPs were understood as being sympathetic to the amendment, with reports before the vote that the Government could be defeated.
Ukip has also campaigned on the issue and says the only way to scrap the tax is to leave the European Union.
The amendment was proposed by Labour MP Paula Sherriff and was supported by the Labour frontbench.
The last Labour government cut the rate of VAT on the products from 17.5 per cent to 5 per cent.
A Treasury spokesperson said: “The UK has set the VAT on sanitary products at the minimum rate permissible under EU rules.”
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