The Students’ Union’s Welfare Officer Rianna Gargiulo has criticised the 305 MPs who voted against a motion to force the government to cut tax on sanitary products.

Since the Finance Bill amendment was rejected last Monday, anger from the public and a threatened rebellion from eurosceptic Conservative and Labour MPs in the House of Commons has resulted in ministers vowing to lobby the European Union over the 5% ‘tampon tax’.

Gargiulo, who has recently championed the issue by giving out free sanitary products to cash-strapped students on Wednesday afternoons, told The Badger that she was “appalled” by the decision. “I’m just hugely disappointed once again for the sake of everyone in the country that remains affected by this decision, and appalled by MPs’ blatant disregard for many of their constituents,” Gargiulo said.

“I speak to students every week about this very issue; it is something people care deeply about both in terms of the politics behind ‘taxing the vagina’ as well as the sheer amount of money spent on periods that students in particular struggle to afford.”

The Welfare Officer, now serving her second term after winning a convincing mandate in the SU elections in the spring, confirmed to us that the Students’ Union will continue to hand out free sanitary products for the “entirety” of the academic year, while “profit-free” Mooncups, tampons and sanitary towels will continue to be sold in the Union Shop at Falmer House for the foreseeable future. The Students’ Union are united in their opposition to the tampon tax. Bethan Hunt, Undergraduate Education Officer, commented she felt “fed up” after the news, while Union President Abraham Baldry has written to MPs.

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas despaired on Twitter at the narrow rejection – 305 to 287. Lucas, who represents the majority of Sussex students in parliament, has said: “It’s madness that tampons are taxed at 5% and flapjacks, for example, at 0%.”

Paul Millar

Image: Simon Carey

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