Tampon tax
MPs reject the motion to eliminate 'Tampon tax' Getty

MPs have voted against the motion to eliminate the tampon tax which would drive the government to cut tax on sanitary products. Prime minister David Cameron argued that the EU sets the rules and it would be difficult to get them overturned.

The attempt to get rid of the 5% VAT rate was led by Labour MP Paula Sherriff, who tabled the amendment to the finance bill, was rejected by 305 to 287 votes. Labour had already reduced VAT on sanitary products from 17.5% to 5% in 2000, but could not reduce the amount any further under EU rules, report the BBC.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) says the VAT rate charged on sanitary products is the lowest allowed under EU law. Any change to the tax requires a proposal from the European Commission proposal and the unanimous agreement of all 28 member states."The UK has set the VAT on sanitary products at the minimum rate permissible under EU rules," a Treasury spokesperson has said.

If the motion would have passed, Chancellor George Osborne would have been required to publish, a strategy for negotiating an exemption with EU institutions in three months.

Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP in support of the motion said the situation was "an example of where the EU has taken over jurisdiction over our tax where it should not have." Ukip also opposes the VAT rate, calling it a tax on women.

"It is absurd that while men's razors, children's nappies and even products like Jaffa Cakes, exotic meats and edible cake decorations are free from VAT, women are still having to pay additional costs on what is already an expensive yet vital product." said SNP MP Alison Thewliss.

More than 250,000 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding that issue be addressed. "David Cameron has accepted that removing sanitary tax will be 'very difficult to do but I'll have to go away and have a look and come back to you'. Well, Mr Cameron, it's time for a response. We need to know why the government still taxes sanitary products on luxurious, 'non-essential' grounds, but not helicopters, the maintenance of our private jets, or crocodile steaks," outlines its description.