March 8, 2013
Process for setting up reparations committee initiated by Cabinet

Plans for the establishment of a national reparations committee were expected to have begun when members of Cabinet met last week.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said on February 25, during a press conference, that he would be initiating the process following completion of research at the University College in London into 46,000, records with the expectation to establish a data base to determine which wealthy modern day families accumulated wealth from the slave economy.

In an article which appeared in the British publication “The Independent” on February 24, it was noted that “there are now wealthy families all around the UK still indirectly enjoying the proceeds of slavery where it has been passed on to them”, this according to Dr Nick Draper of the University College of London.

“Academics from UCL, including Dr Draper, spent three years drawing together 46,000 records of compensation given to British slave-owners into an Internet database to be launched for public use on Wednesday,” the article continued.

“Among those revealed to have benefited from slavery are ancestors of [British] prime minister, David Cameron; former minister Douglas Hogg; authors Graham Greene and George Orwell; poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the new chairman of the Arts Council, Peter Bazalgette. Other prominent names which feature in the records include scions of one of the nation’s oldest banking families, the Barings, and the second Earl of Harewood, Henry Lascelles, an ancestor of the Queen’s cousin. Some families used the money to invest in the railways and other aspects of the industrial revolution; others bought or maintained their country houses, and some used the money for philanthropy. George Orwell’s great-grandfather, Charles Blair, received £4,442, equal to £3m today, for the 218 slaves he owned.”

This process, according to Gonsalves, would strengthen the hands of those who have been calling for reparations.

He said that the reparations committee would look at issues relating to the slave trade and to the genocide of the early indigenous people.

The database is available at (DD)