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 file File name Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pagessort descending Link to selections
PREM19/1704 Economic policy (Policy towards privatisation: disposal of public sector assets; contracting out of public sector functions; flotation of Royal Ordnance PLC; Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU) picketing at DHSS Huyton Local Office over privatised cleaning contract) (Part 14) 1986 Jul 9 1986 Oct 29 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/1361 Prime Minister tours abroad (G7 Summit - London; 40th anniversary of D-Day: administrative arrangements) (Part 1) 1982 Nov 26 1984 May 31 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/2249 Industrial Policy (Industrial relations law) (Part 13) 1987 Feb 4 1987 Sep 29 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2969 Environmental Affairs (Environmental policy: environmental pollution: climate change; Environment White Paper) (Part 17) 1990 Jul 2 1990 Aug 30 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2134 Energy (Energy policy: nuclear power; the Sizewell Report) (Part 10) 1986 Jun 2 1987 Jan 26 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1623 Security (Security of Buckingham Palace grounds: incident on 9 July 1982; review of law of trespass) 1981 Aug 20 1985 May 9 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/2795 Parliament (Mr Speaker's official entertainment) 1989 Mar 1 1989 Mar 6 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2152 European Policy (Community-wide digital cellular radio system: Prime Minister's initiative at European Council meeting in London, December 1986) 1986 Nov 12 1987 Sep 7 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2787 NATO (NATO's 30th, 35th and 40th anniversaries) 1979 May 10 1989 Mar 23 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1956 Sierra Leone (Visits to UK by President Stevens, November 1980, and President Momoh, March 1986: meetings with Prime Minister) 1979 Aug 9 1986 Mar 5 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2461 Regional Policy (Inner Cities Initiative: development of Canary Wharf and extension of Docklands Light Railway; new Urban Development Corporations) (Part 9) 1986 Dec 2 1987 Apr 28 2016 Jul 21 2
PREM19/1973 Soviet Union (Human rights and the position of dissidents in the Soviet Union: policy towards the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)) (Part 1) 1980 May 14 1985 May 3 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2647 Education (The Open College) 1987 Aug 21 1989 Mar 6 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1800 Immigration (Immigration rules) (Part 2) 1982 Sep 2 1986 Mar 26 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/2374 Overseas Aid (Overseas aid policy: Aid and Trade Provision (ATP) proposals and progress) (Part 5) 1985 Jul 11 1987 Jul 22 2016 Jul 21

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