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Record number: WCP2740

Sent by:
? Sydney Charles Buxton
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
12 August 1912

Sent by ?Sydney Charles Buxton, Board of Trade, Whitehall Gardens, S.W. to Alfred Russel Wallace [none given] on 12 August 1912.

Record created:
30 November 2011 by Mayer, Anna


No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP2740.2630)

A typical letter typewritten  in English and signed by author.

Held by:
British Library, The
Finding number:
BL Add. 46440 ff. 272-274
Copyright owner:
Andrew Clay

Physical description

Transcription information




Board of Trade,

Whitehall Gardens,

S. W.

12th August, 1912

Dear Wallace

In your letter of 26th June, you asked for a Return --

"showing the number of persons, male and female, directly employed by the Government and paid by it; distinguishing the manual workers or labourers and those employed in office work".

As stated in my reply of 10th July, there is no Return in existence which gives exactly what you wanted although the documents sent therewith contained a good deal of pertinent information as to the number of clerks and manual workers who are directly in the employ of the various Departments.

What you now ask for in your letter of 18th July is, however, very much more, for you in those who are indirectly employed through the Contractors for Government work. This opens up a very wide field of inquiry which is full of difficulties. The Contractors themselves would hardly know how many to return as [[2]] employed on Government work at any one time or for a period such as a year. Moreover, questions arise as to where to draw the line in the long list of workpeople who are more or less indirectly paid out of Government Funds. For instance, the preparation of materials forms a very large part of the building of a ship and directly many workpeople are employed in a great variety of trades in order that the shipbuilder may carry out his contract. To follow up all these auxiliary trades would be very difficult and yet it is obvious that no Return which stopped short at the shipbuilder's yard would be satisfactory. Again, there is no exact definition of Government Service; it branches off in many unexpected directions far beyond the limits of the United Kingdom.

Altogether the subject is much more complicated than would appear probable to anyone unfamiliar with the many ramifications of Government business, the great variety of ways in which it is done, and the numerous Authorities involved. A very large part of the money collected for Government purposes is ultimately spent as wages but to answer your questions with even approximate accuracy as to the number of the recipients a [[3]] considerable Enquiry would be necessary, and I doubt whether the results would be of much value because so many are only employed for a fractional part of their time.

I may add that the only Department which has the authority to obtain full information from the spending Departments is the Treasury, and if you still wish to pursue the matter, may I suggest that you should address your request to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In doing so, it would be well to define the extent of the information required so as to include only such facts as it may be possible to obtain.

Yours truly | S. Buxton [signature]

Alfred R. Wallace, Esq. O.M., F.R.S., &c.


1. Written in the top left of the page in an unidentified hand is "Answered with Thanks.".

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