A veteran MP was met with raucous cheers as he finally used the word 'tampon' in the House of Commons last night.
Bill Cash, the Tory MP for Stone, was called out after he repeatedly said "products" instead of "tampons", during a heated debate over attempts to axe the 5% VAT 'tampon tax' and was heckled by Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy.
Expressing his support for removing the tax, 75-year-old Cash seemed to be avoiding referring to the female sanitary items by name, after he said "products" several times.
Creasy challenged Cash to say 'tampon'
But Labour member Creasy demanded he use the correct words - and one point refusing to sit down until he did.
Top banter between Stella Creasy and Bill Cash over tampons and sanitary towels
— Mark (@MarkMalik_2) October 26, 2015
Speaking about proposals to force the government to include scrapping tax in its negotiations with the EU, Cash said he was "completely on the side" of campaigners who want to see "a complete and total elimination of VAT on these products."
As the exchanges fired back and forth across the chamber, Creasy stood up and demanded that Cash use the proper words.
"If he's indicating that he can say the word, I will happily sit down," she shouted, to loud cheers from other MPs.
When Cash next spoke, he said, "With respect to the question about sanitary towels and tampons..." prompting a second huge cheer in the house:
Commenters online were delighted with the exchange:
Ah we managed to get bill cash to say tampon on the record - who says progress isn't possible! #Tampontax
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) October 26, 2015
— Tish NAUGHTON (@NAUGHTONTish) October 26, 2015
— malsimon (@opheliasbrother) October 26, 2015
I love @stellacreasy for making Bill Cash say "tampon" - tremendous MP
— Mark Ellison (@mark_a_ellison) October 26, 2015
— Nat (@mummy_robot) October 26, 2015
— Joanne English (@JoEnglish79) October 26, 2015
Stella Creasy gets Bill Cash to say a "naughty word".
— J-P. Janson De Couët (@ostercywriter) October 26, 2015
— The Dragon Fairy (@Puffles2010) October 26, 2015
Though Cash supported removing the tax, which is imposed by the European Commission, he was against the amendment being proposed to do it, calling it "wishful thinking" that was unlikely to work.
Creasy earlier told Cash she knew "with pleasure, his support for the idea that tampons - as they are called - and sanitary towels are an essential".
She challenged him on when he had last raised the issue of the 'tampon tax' in parliament, saying, "I am an avid follower of many of his debates in parliament and I know he's raised concerns before about the European Union, so I wonder if he can just update the house, having discovered his support for the proposal, when he last raised the VAT on tampons in this house?"
Cash defended himself, saying he was not "backwards in coming forwards" on the issue.
MPs rejected the Finance Bill amendment, which would have forced a negotiation with the European Commission over the issue, by 305 to 287 votes.
But ministers did agree to start negotiations with the European Commission, requesting that it allow member states to 'zero-rate' all female sanitary products - which would give the UK control over removing the controversial tax.
The government did not, however, commit to a clear timeline or that this demand would be on the Prime Minister’s “shopping list” in the EU re-negotiation before a UK referendum.
The amendment being discussed would have mandated the government to include a demand for no VAT on tampons and other sanitary products in their EU re-negotiation package.
Labour MP Paula Sherriff, who proposed the amendment, said:
“It is time to end the tampon tax once and for all and today in this House we have the chance to take a step towards achieving that. It is absurd that tampons and sanitary towels are taxed as luxuries not essentials in Britain, and not treated as a ‘public service activity’ or medical provision by European law. Almost a quarter of a million people from the across the country have signed up to call for that to change, and it’s about time they were heard in Westminster and Brussels.
“Quite simply, a tax system that lets you dine on crocodile steak on your private jet without paying a penny, when we can’t survive a period without the Treasury taxing us for it, cannot be a fair one.
“Periods are a fact of life and it’s not like women have a choice. Many were shocked to see Kiran Ghandi run the London Marathon without a tampon to highlight that too many women around the world do not have access to sanitary products. But that’s the point – this is a basic matter of biology and it is time to end the taboo. Here in this country, we can buy tampons but we are taxed for it.
"Frankly VAT on tampons is the Vagina Added Tax. A tax on women, pure and simple.”