David Davis: Scrapping tampon tax will be a priority after Brexit

David Davis
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Brexit Secretary David Davis has stated that a controversial tax on feminine hygeine projects will be "one of the first things" he raises with the Chancellor when Britain leaves the EU.

Dubbed the "tampon tax", the levy is the result of EU regulations which mean women's sanitary products are subject to 5 percent VAT - despite being viewed by many as a basic necessity.

The Yorkshire MP Paul Sherriff has been a key figure in the campaign to scrap the tax, and has pressed Mr Davis to explain whether any progress has been made in talks with the EU since it agreed to extend 0 percent VAT rates last year.

Mr Davis admitted the tax is yet to be reduced, but hinted the issue will be a priority "the moment" the UK completes its exit from the trading bloc.

Critics of the levy have described it as "unfair", arguing that products like tampons and sanitary pads are "not a luxury" and should enjoy the same exemptions as food and medicine.

Last year, the then Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to scrap the tax, but was restricted by EU rules that prevent the UK from applying a VAT rate any lower than 5 percent.

EU leaders subsequently agreed to look at options to extend zero rates, and in the meantime the Government has committed to channeling all funds raised by the tax into women's charities.

In yesterday's Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed that the tampon tax has generated £12 million in revenue to allocate over the coming year.

However, Ms Sherriff has used an opportunity to quiz Brexit ministers in the Commons to ask what action is being taken at a European level to move ahead with tax reforms.

"Given that yesterday was international women's day, can the secretary of state tell us whether his discussions in Europe have brought us any closer to finally seeing an end to the tampton tax?" she asked.

Mr Davis acknowledged that "we haven't seen an end to the tampon tax yet", but added: "The moment we leave I'm sure its one of the first things I'm going to have on the agenda for talking to the Chancellor.

He also urged the Dewsbury MP to "bear in mind what we're doing with the tampon tax - we are using it for all sorts of incredibly important causes".

"We will continue with that until the moment that we can repeal it," he said.