Boris Johnson urged to bring in emergency laws to stop 'black market' profiteering during coronavirus crisis

'No one should be making a profit out of other people’s misery,' says Tory MP

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 18 March 2020 14:44 GMT
Johnson: Britons 'understand what they need to do to beat' coronavirus

Boris Johnson is being urged to bring in emergency laws to prevent "black market profiteers" from cashing in on the coronavirus crisis.

Tory MP Alexander Stafford has written to the prime minister to call for emergency legislation to stop "callous and avaricious" behaviour from those buying up vital supplies to sell on at inflated prices.

It comes as the government published plans to give the authorities sweeping powers to curb the outbreak, which include allowing police and immigration officials to temporarily detain infected people.

The Emergency Coronavirus Bill is expected to be fast-tracked through parliament, with legislation expected to be published on Thursday.

Mr Stafford, the MP for Rother Valley, said no one should be "making a profit out of other people’s misery" and called on the government to adapt emergency legislation to crack down on profiteering.

He said: "My residents and I have been concerned to see and hear stories of mothers unable to find powdered milk for their new-borns, the elderly unable to find packs of toilet roll, the vulnerable unable to find hand sanitizer and gels, and fathers unable to buy baby thermometers for their children.

"All the while, some have been hoarding supplies of these products, with the aim to sell them on at an inflated price, profiteering from the vulnerable and law-abiding citizens at this time of national crisis.

"Such behaviour is not reflective of business acumen; it is predatory, vicious and uncaring.

"These black-market profiteers need to be stamped out and shown that their actions are not only hurting innocent people, but also go against everything that Britain stands for.

"I urge the government to quickly introduce emergency legislation that will stop such callous and avaricious behaviour, whilst ensuring that those who are most vulnerable in our society get the resources that they need.

"No one should be making a profit out of other people’s misery.”

Images of empty shelves have been circulating on social media as shoppers panic buy goods such as toilet roll, hand sanitiser, pasta and tinned goods to get them through the crisis.

Sainsbury's and Tesco have both implemented rationing on essential items to prevent stockpiling amid fears elderly and vulnerable people will miss out.

Bottles of hand sanitiser are being sold on Ebay for hiked up prices, with bidding running to thousands of pounds for multipack bottles.

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