Berwick Tory MP's U-turn on tampon tax
Tory MP for Berwick scrutinised over tampon tax U-turn
Berwick Lib Dem spokesperson Julie Pörksen has turned the spotlight on Conservative Berwick MP Anne Marie Trevelyan's U-turn this week over the "tampon tax".
Mrs Trevelyan was prominently quoted in the Journal and the Northumberland Gazette earlier in the week announcing she had signed an Opposition amendment to the Finance Bill which called for the Government to set out plans for removing the 5% VAT rating for sanitary products.
It was reported in the Journal & Evening Chronicle on Tuesday 27th October that Mrs Trevelyan "said she had spoken to Treasury Minister David Gauke and warned that she would vote against the Government if ministers did not voluntarily promise to act", adding “This is something that’s rumbled on for quite a long time and as a female campaigner it's something that’s bugged me for ages.”
Mrs Trevelyan was also quoted in the Northumberland Gazette as saying [in the Commons debate on the 26th October]
"I put my name to this amendment because I have long thought that this is a bizarre and discriminatory tax on sanitary products and it needs sorting out.... I ask the Minister to be brave, to think about this and to stand up for all young women."
However, the Hansard record of the Commons vote on the 26th October shows that Mrs Trevelyan in fact voted with the Government against the amendment which would have compelled it to cut the tax, helping the Government to defeat the plan by 305 votes to 287. Lib Dem MPs supported the amendment to scrap the tampon tax.
Responding, Julie Pörksen said:
"Anne Marie Trevelyan's stance on this issue deserves to be scrutinised and exposed. By signing the Opposition amendment, she has created a clear impression that she is campaigning against the tax, but she has sadly been less forthcoming about the fact she voted with the Government to defeat the amendment on the 26th October.
More than 250,000 people signed the Stop Taxing Periods - Period online petition on this important issue, and Lib Dem MPs voted to support their campaign. However, having sought to gain credit by supporting the campaign and threatening to vote against the Government on this issue, Berwick's MP changed her mind in the voting lobby.
There are three possible explanations for this, none of which reflect particularly well on her.
One is that she backed down after receiving some vague assurances from the minister that they will look into the matter, but even some of her senior Conservative colleagues have described these as 'weasel words'. The second is that she has been 'got at' by Conservative whips. The third is that her comments this week have been part of a publicity stunt and she never intended to vote against when it came to the crunch.
Voters in Berwick should be reminded of the fact that Anne Marie promised during the campaign and at her speech on election morning that she intended to be 'Conservative lobby-fodder'. It would appear that she is delivering on that front, but has gone back on her words about voting to scrap the tampon tax.
Following her recent vote to support tax credit cuts, her constituents should recognise that their MP's words do not always match her actions. We will continue to keep a close eye on her voting record and caution her to avoid misleading her constituents and the media in this way."