So the kind of work we are celebrating today is essential if we are to succeed in constructing a society of such diverse origins as our own, which can understand and be at ease with itself, and to be able to promote self-respect among minority groups and also break down the sense of isolation.

All of you represent an amazing and very jolly cross-section of the different communities that make up Britain. It does seem to me that all of you are to all intents and purposes a microcosm of the story which the initiative by the Commission for Racial Equality is celebrating and which we are now launching today. There is an ancient Indian saying which runs, 'The roots of mankind run across frontiers'. I personally could not agree more. In fact, if you search through the cultural traditions of so many of you represented here this afternoon, you will find some wonderful, wise sayings. Personally I think they should be utilised rather more.

I am very pleased to give 'Roots to the Future' my support. I am afraid to confess that I have not been able to read every single page of the publication yet, but I have been fascinated to see something of the exhibition over the tops of everybody's heads this afternoon and the very vivid picture that it shows of the contribution made over the centuries by people from such a wonderfully diverse collection of races, religions and cultures. That diversity, which so many immigrants and ethnic minorities represent, and which, I must stress, I come across to a very heartening extent as I travel up and down the country, is very much part of what makes Britain what it is, and what makes it such a rich and fascinating country. And in my view it should be a source of pride, not envy or resentment.

But as all of you know it is not always possible to achieve harmony out of diversity, because the differences between peoples often seem to run deep. History, attitudes, values, religion, ways of living, all these things so often seem to divide us when in fact we should be looking more and more for those aspects that unite us. In reconciliation we do need tolerance and understanding and of course that process has to be two-way. We do not succeed if it remains merely a one-sided affair. That is why education is so important, and why the work represented by this initiative of the Commission for Racial Equality deserves our support. It is part of a much wider network of activity designed to build trust between minorities and longer established communities.

I am particularly glad that my own trusts are able to contribute in a whole variety of ways, in this collective activity. For example through its new campaign, 'Race for Opportunity', Business in the Community, of which I am president, is encouraging the business world to understand what a diverse workforce can bring to employers and to appreciate the importance of their customers among the ethnic minorities. And of course with my Youth Business Trust we are supporting a growing number of new and exciting enterprises from many different ethnic minorities in this country, which I think will be, as far as I am concerned, a great investment in the future of this country.

So the kind of work we are celebrating today is essential if we are to succeed in constructing a society of such diverse origins as our own, which can understand and be at ease with itself, and to be able to promote self-respect among minority groups and also break down the sense of isolation. So this is a process of education in the widest possible sense. I can only commend you all for the support you give to this particular effort in so many different ways. It is more than anything else a beacon of hope for the future."