Liam Byrne, MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill and Labour’s Shadow Mayor for the West Midlands is pressing the government to take action on firms profiteering from the CoronaCrisis today.
Byrne’s move comes after highlighting a local pharmacy in his constituency that was charging £19.99 for 200ml of the children's medicine, Calpol.
In the wake of the outcry, Byrne asked his social media followers to send in evidence of rip offs - and was flooded with responses.
Now he has drafted amendments to the Coronavirus Bill to give ministers the power to clamp down on unfair trading and cap price increases at 10% of their average value the week before any increases.
The amendment is based on US laws where two thirds of American states have laws against price gouging during emergencies and has been backed by scores of MP's.
Liam will now work with the government constructively to get their proposed Bill amended and has set up a website where members of the public can
Liam Byrne MP said,
“We're going to get through the Coronovirus by pulling together. Already we’ve seen the very best of us. Unfortunately we’ve already seen some bad behaviour where the unscrupulous exploit the situation to make a fast buck. Well we need to stop the bad behaviour in its tracks.
“Profiteering is always unacceptable. During its a crisis it’s simply despicable.‘
“In America, most states have taken this action. We need to follow their example now.
CORONAVIRUS BILL - LIAM BYRNE MP AMENDMENT:
To move the following Clause –
“Power to cap prices
(1) An appropriate authority may declare a state of disruption to the food supply chain.
(2) A state of disruption may not last longer than 180 days from the date of the declaration.
(3) During a declared state of disruption it is prohibited to charge a price that exceeds an amount equal to or in excess of 10% of the average price at which the same or similar consumer good or services were obtainable during the seven days prior to the declared state of disruption.
(4) The provisions of this section shall not apply if the increase in price is substantially attributable to additional costs that arose within the food supply chain in connection with the sale of consumer goods and services.
(5) The appropriate authority may direct trading standards officers to investigate apparent breaches of this section.
(6) If the appropriate authority is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that a person has, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with this section, the appropriate authority may impose a financial penalty on that person in accordance with Schedule 14.”
Schedule 14, page 136, line 2, after “chains” insert “and power to cap prices”.
Schedule 14, page 136, line 5, after “section 26” insert “or [Power to cap prices]”.