WALPOLE, Robert, first earl of Orford (1676–1745).The Humble Representation of the House of Commons to the King, with His Majesty's most Gracious Answer thereunto. London: Printed for R. Knaplock in St. Paul's Church-yard, J Tonson in the Strand, J. Pemberton in Fleet-Street, and R. Williamson near Gray's-Inn Gate in Holborn, 1728.
Folio (12 4/8 x 8 1/8 inches). 12-pages (disbound, a bit browned).
The House of Commons debates the state of the National Debt as George II begins his reign: "in Duty to your Majesty, For the sake of Truth, And For the better Information and Satisfaction of all your Good People, taken into their Consideration the State of The National Debt, In regard to what Debts have been discharged and paid off since the Establishment of The Sinking Fund for that Purpose, and what New Debts have with the said Time been contracted and incurred,..." (page 133). Sir Robert Walpole's creation of the Sinking Fund, and the South Sea Company, are both addressed in this paper, accompanied by a lengthy accounting of the extent of the National Debt and the manner in which it has been gradually reduced since 1716.
George II's response is recorded: "I cannot but be very well pleased,... and you may be Assured That it shall be My Particular Care and Study to maintain and preserve the Publick Credit, To improve the Sinking Fund, And to avoid all Occasions of laying any New Burthens upon my People" (page 144).
As first lord of the Treasury and chancellor of the exchequer "Walpole's first responsibility was financial policy. In particular, he was faced with the massive burden of debt incurred during the French wars of 1689–1713. He set out, therefore, to reduce that burden, both through redeeming part of the national debt and by reducing the interest payable on the remainder. As has been seen, in 1717 he continued to support his proposals to establish a sinking fund, which would reduce the capital of the debt, even after he had gone into opposition, and he was quick to recognize that the South Sea scheme, by encouraging the holders of irredeemable annuities to exchange them for company stock, made a significant contribution to cutting interest payments. Between 1727 and 1730 the interest paid on government stock held by the three great financial companies—the Bank of England, the East India Company, and the South Sea Company—was further reduced from 5 to 4 per cent. Together, between 1721 and 1741, these measures contributed to the reduction of the national debt by £6.25 million net and the annual interest charge from £2.57 million to £1.89 million" (Stephen Taylor for DNB). ESTC N478997. Catalogued by Kate Hunter