The origins of the Commissioners can be traced back directly to the passing of the National Debt Reduction Act of 1786. Although there had been numerous earlier attempts to set up sinking funds to reduce the National Debt - including one by Sir Robert Walpole in 1716 - they all suffered from the defect that the moneys could be applied towards defraying current expenditure and inevitably, they were sooner or later diverted to that purpose.
By the early 1780's, however, strong pressure was being exerted on the Government to ensure that positive steps were taken to reduce and, eventually, eradicate the National Debt. This led to the passing of the 1786 Act and the establishment of what became known as William Pitt's Sinking Fund. Six Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt were appointed and authorised to employ such clerks and other officers as were necessary, thereby establishing the original National Debt Office, which is now known as CRND.
Historically, the size of the National Debt was measured in terms of the gross nominal liabilities of the National Loans Fund. However, a better measure is the Public Sector Net Debt, for which figures are published monthly by the Office for National Statistics (see Public Sector Finances, HM Treasury).
The statutory functions of the CRND have been carried out within the United Kingdom Debt Management Office since July 2002.