Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 8th March 2023.
We do. They certainly took their cut, and they continue to. We want something completely different. We want to give the victims of slavery and colonialism the tools and ability to help themselves. They do not want a handout; they want a hand up, and they want to be able to build for themselves. There must be a reckoning with the primary reason why empire was created: to materially enrich some people at the expense of others. Its afterlife is not an issue of identity politics, but a key contributor to global inequality and its corrosive impact on democracy.
I will conclude on a personal note. The BBC’s Laura Trevelyan, who made such a moving BBC documentary on her journey of discovery about her ancestors’ part in this story, shared with me the comments of a Caribbean woman who worked in the NHS. After watching the programme, the woman told her how the lack of justice, combined with the Windrush scandal, meant that for the first time in her life, she felt she did not belong in this country, despite being born here and working here all her life. Many other black people in this country will be able to relate to that; I can relate to it.
We as a country and as a Parliament have to remember that until we acknowledge the past, play our part in resolving matters, and help to build a better future, we will never be able to heal and move forward, and a significant number of people will never truly feel a part of this country. That cannot be allowed to happen. We should live up to our words; we often talk in this place about collectively wanting to take our country forward into a bright future. The issue of reparatory justice must be confronted now. If this Government do not do it, the next Government, whoever they may be, will find the arguments growing stronger by the year, by the day, by the week.