Banner is the first senior UK clergyman to publicly speak out on the topicWikimedia Commons

Revd Dr Michael Banner, a Dean at the University of Cambridge, has called for the British government to pay reparations to those who “still suffer” from colonial exploitation and the slave trade.

Banner is a Dean, Fellow and Director of Studies in Theology and Religious Studies at Trinity College, and is the first senior UK clergyman to publicly speak out on this topic.

The Cambridge Dean argues that the Government must undo the “original injustice” of slavery, from which modern institutions still benefit.

Banner proposes that the Government take a “holistic” approach to help heal the “wounds of capitalism”, as opposed to just offering individuals a “pile of cash”. He highlights that Britons were “leading perpetrators of the horrors” of slavery and argues that the Governement are under an obligation to pay reparations.

At a conference held for the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics last week, Banner said: “We surely have reparative obligations and others have a claim on us where we are manifestly the beneficiaries of an original injustice and where others identifiably still suffer on account of it.”

He added: “If the descendants of the original victims of colonial exploitation still suffer as a result of these injustices, are we modern Britons beneficiaries of those wrongs? Again the answer must be ‘yes’.”

The Dean also criticised the narrow approach of institutions when considering their own connections with slavery, claiming that it is seemingly “taken for granted [...] that any accrual of wealth from slavery in the past has materially benefitted the institution in the present.”

The Dean also told the Telegraph that following discussions with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, the Archbishop described his arguments as “challenging”. Welby is an alumnus of Trinity College and an honorary fellow.


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Banner’s comments come amid a global debate on whether reparations should be paid by countries involved in the Atlantic slave trade.

Institutions such as the University of Cambridge have been forced to examine their links to colonialism in light of the Rhodes Must Fall campaign - a global campaign to decolonise education that began in 2015.

His comments also come in light of the more recent Black Lives Matter movement, which campaigned against systemic racism and the lasting impact of colonialism.