Britain's Slavery Debt Reparations Now!

Michael Banner

Britain's Slavery Debt Reparations Now!

Michael Banner






18 Jul 2024


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$31.95 AUD

$36.99 NZD


A concise, reasoned, practical case for why Britain should pay reparations for historic wrongs to present Caribbean inhabitants.

Britain owes reparations to the Caribbean. The exploitation of generations of those trafficked from Africa, or born into enslavement, to work the immensely profitable sugars plantations, enriched both British individuals and the British nation. Colonialism, even after emancipation, perpetuated the exploitation. The Caribbean still suffers, and Britain still benefits, from these historic wrongs.

There are some fairly standard objections to reparations -- 'slavery ended a long time ago'; 'Britain should be celebrating its role in abolishing slavery'; 'slavery was legal back then and we shouldn't judge the past by the standards of the present'; 'you shouldn't visit the sins of the fathers on the sons'; and so on. And there is a sense that the practical problems of who should pay what to whom are immensely difficult.

Michael Banner carefully considers and answers these objections. He argues that reparations are not about punishment, but about the restoration of wrongful gains. In Reparations Now! he makes a specific and practical proposal regarding reparations, picking up on the programme suggested by Caribbean countries (through CARICOM), and taking as a starting point the nearly £20 million paid as compensation by the British government at abolition, not to those who had suffered slavery, but to those who lost enslaved labourers.

Reparations Now! discusses what can be done, here and now, by individuals and institutions, to advance the case for reparations between national governments.


1: Introduction: A Proposal
2: Britain and the Caribbean: A Brief (and Painful) History
3: When History is Not History: The Demands of Moral Repair
4: Some (Mostly Not Very Good) Objections to Reparations
5: From Principle to Practice: Who Should Pay What to Whom?
6: 'It Ain't Gonna Happen'
7: Conclusion: All for the Sake of . . .


Michael Banner , Dean and Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge

Michael Banner is Dean and Fellow of Trinity College, University of Cambridge, having previously held chairs in the University of Edinburgh and at King's College, University of London. He has been a regular contributor to discussions of public policy in areas ranging from the environment to the use of animals in science, from ethical investment to the regulation of the use of human tissue, and has chaired or served as a member of numerous government committees over the past 25 years.