Phil Woolas, the Immigration Minister, has denied a report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph that he had claimed for the cost of women’s clothing
He called the allegation “disgusting”, however the Telegraph are not backing down (as yet)
The Tesco bill, dated Aug 12, included a pair of women’s shoes for £23, two packets of disposable bibs priced £2.98 each, a bottle of nail polish at £5.75, three comics for £5.14, two packs of babies wipes at £1.44 each and a ladies’ jumper at £5.
A Tesco receipt for £110.20, showed he spent £1.48 on panty liners, £1.19 on tampons, £2.99 on nappies and £15 on a ladies’ blouse.
Two of those items particularly interested me. Not just because unless Mr Woolas has had a spectacularly successful sex change operation, he has no personal need for the tampons and panty liners, but because it is particularly irksome to see anyone attempt to justify them to the Fees Office as being:
Irksome because for many years now there has been a campaign running to have VAT removed from these items, on the grounds that they are an essential item for women.
Since the 1970s, campaigners have been calling for sanitary products to be eligible for a zero rate of tax. In more recent times, a campaign led by MP Christine McCafferty petitioned the Labour government for a reduction in the tax rate, describing tax rates of 17.5 per cent as ‘offensive’. And things are getting better. From January 2001, the rate of VAT for sanitary protection products was lowered from the full rate to 5 per cent, in line with EU restrictions
VAT does what it says on the tin – it’s a value added tax on items deemed to be ‘luxuries’, rather than ‘necessities’.
The Government does rather well out of the VAT on sanitary items. Some £25million a year out of designating them as ‘luxuries’ rather than ‘necessities’.
So this morning I have written to Harriet Harman – surely she will find time to answer me? – to ask her, with her new found interest in matters of Equality, to explain to me how the humble tampon manages to be both a ‘luxury’ for a woman, and a ‘necessity’ for a man, and a tax payer funded ‘necessity’ at that.
Her reply should be interesting, I shall share it with you.
It used to be that MPs buying items of women’s clothing were notoriously conservative. How times have changed.
- Changing the rules Anonymong
- May 11, 2009 at 3:53 pm