Welcome to the world of european legislation, where it's always the 1970s
VAT replaced the UK's tax scheme when the country joined the European Economic Community. "When we joined we already had zero-rates on things like food and transport," says Wilson.
The UK was allowed to keep on applying them. But there was one big condition. "The rules would be as they were applied then and that would be it," explains Rita de la Feria, professor of tax law at Durham University. No new zero-rates would be able to be introduced. The UK would be "in direct breach of EU law" if it tried, she says.
Tampons were not given a zero rate of VAT in the 1970s. "We can't turn round now and make it zero-rated because we're only allowed to keep the zero-rates that we had in place at that time," adds Wilson.
...right, because all decisions in the 70's were correct first try.