On Monday evening MPs rejected, by 305 votes to 287, an amendment to the Finance Bill which would have forced a negotiation with the EU for a reduction in the 5% VAT.

Following the vote, Victoria said, “I think it’s really important to understand that what we were voting on was the insertion of a new clause into the Finance Bill which would have put an obligation on the Treasury to write a report setting out the impact of exempting women’s sanitary protection products from value added tax. We were not voting directly on whether we should zero-rate sanitary products. Of course they are essential items for women. Currently, they are subject to a reduced VAT rate of 5 per cent  which is the lowest rate across the whole EU. I would be very supportive of zero rating. However, products requiring a VAT exemption are set out in EU law and any change would require the support of all the member states which, without greater reform, is an extremely difficult task.

During the debate the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke MP, said that he would raise the issue with the European Commission and other EU member states in order to explore the possibility of changes in the future.