Archive

Large scale document archive

MT's official files as Prime Minister, 1979-90

MT's official files as PM can be read on this site as they are released, in full and free to all - the confidential files originally stored at No.10, the core record of her premiership.

This is the first time in Britain - in fact as far as we can tell, in any country - that the declassified archive of a head of government has ever been published in full, paper or online.

The files have been copied at the British National Archives (TNA) at Kew in London and can be downloaded precisely as they appear in the reading room.

We are doing something more to help people make sense of this mass of information. The files are subject-based, logically enough, but that system makes it difficult to reconstruct the flow of paper across the Prime Minister’s desk at any point in time, depriving us of a sense of context and cross-winds, some of them overwhelming.

To combat this effect we are uploading a large selection of the most important documents from these files – thousands in total - to our powerful site database. You can search and sort by date, subject and other parameters, getting as close as anyone can now get to reconstructing the Prime Minister’s daily "Red Boxes", the rich diet of foreign and domestic policy papers submitted to her by the No.10 Private Office.

list & links to the files

Secret no more

 

Below are links to the downloadable files in numerical order. The subject terms are those used in the original filing system. Files held back from release are listed in red.

An average file has around 200 pages.

You can read here an account of how filing worked at No.10, and the system for archiving MT's Prime Ministerial papers, both of which had their quirks.

Some of these downloads are very big, as large as 75MB, though most are in the range 1-10MB. To keep sizes down, images have been compressed, though legibility should never be a problem. High quality copies can also be supplied, where a need is established, on application to the site editor.

Where documents within a file have been selected for the site database, they can easily be viewed by clicking the link after the file name ("Selected PREM19/959"), as well as via conventional searches from the archive search screen. Over time most files will have had documents selected in this way, but it will take time and care is being taken not to allow the site database to become so large as to be unmanageable.

You can sort each column by clicking on its title in bold at the top, a powerful tool to find all the files on a particular subject over several years.

You can also search the list from the box on the right. The term "Public Spending", for example, will produce all the parts of the main file on that topic.

engagement diaries

An alternative way through the material is to read MT's engagement diaries, jumping day to day.

The engagement diaries link directly to relevant documents in the site database, so this is a good way to recover the perspective from the Red Box.

 

Link to full filesort ascending File name Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages Link to selections
PREM19/2955 Education (General policy on education) (Part 24) 1990 Mar 1 1990 Mar 30 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2954 Education (General policy on education) (Part 23) 1990 Jan 9 1990 Feb 23 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2953 Economic Policy (Venture capital) 1981 Jun 8 1990 May 24 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2952 Economic Policy (Pay Review Body reports) (Part 10) 1989 Jan 4 1990 Jan 31 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2950 Economic Policy (Review of policy on film finance: Prime Minister's seminar for the British Film Industry, 15 June 1990) (Part 2) 1990 Mar 16 1990 Jun 18 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2949 Economic Policy (Public spending) (Part 44) 1990 Jan 5 1990 Aug 28 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2947 Economic Policy (Taxation of individuals, including tax reform) (Part 4) 1987 Jul 6 1990 Mar 19 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2946 Economic Policy (Inland Revenue: PAYE computer project; International Computers Limited (ICL)) (Part 3) 1984 Apr 6 1990 Apr 30 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2944 Economic Policy (Strategy) (Part 28) 1987 Dec 31 1990 Sep 28 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2943 Economic Policy (Domestic monetary policy) (Part 21) 1989 Sep 5 1990 Apr 23 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2942 Economic Policy (Budget) (Part 19) 1989 Dec 6 1990 May 17 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2941 Economic Policy (Brandt Commission memorandum 'Common Crisis': 'Facing One World', report by an Independent Group on Financial Flows to Developing Countries) (Part 5) 1983 Jan 27 1990 Sep 4 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2938 Defence (Service exercises to test the transition to war and home defence procedures: Ministerial participation in NATO exercises) 1979 Jul 25 1990 Nov 26 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2937 Defence (Prime Ministers seminar on defence questions, Chequers, 30 September 1989) 1989 Jul 4 1990 Jan 8 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2935 Defence (Procurement of weapon systems) (Part 8) 1990 Jan 18 1990 Jul 30 2016 Dec 30

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