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 Pages Link to selectionssort descending
PREM19/994 Economic policy (Panamanian freight tax) 1983 Dec 30 1984 Apr 2 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 37
PREM19/995 Economic policy (Liaison Committee on presentation of government policies; nuclear opinion poll; guidance to Ministers and MPs) (Part 3) 1982 Dec 1 1984 Oct 8 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 322
PREM19/996 Economic policy (Budget) (Part 9) 1982 Oct 19 1983 Jan 31 2013 Aug 1 Secret 280
PREM19/997 Economic policy (Budget) (Part 10) 1983 Feb 3 1983 Mar 15 2013 Aug 1 Secret 321
PREM19/999 Economic policy (International banking system) (Part 2) 1982 Dec 1 1983 Aug 23 2013 Aug 1 Secret 413
PREM19/1000 Economic policy (Public sector pay policy; Treasury monitoring reports) (Part 9) 1982 Nov 1 1983 Apr 6 2013 Aug 1 Secret 188
PREM19/1001 Economic policy (Public sector pay policy; Treasury monitoring reports) (Part 10) 1983 Apr 22 1983 Sep 16 2013 Aug 1 Secret 108
PREM19/1002 Economic policy (Prime Minister's meetings with clearing bank chairmen) 1979 Oct 17 1983 Feb 2 2013 Aug 1 Secret 84
PREM19/1003 Economic policy (Top Salaries Review Body (TSRB): reports on salaries of senior civil servants, senior members of the armed services and judges; salaries of Members of Parliament) (Part 4) 1981 Nov 9 1983 Apr 29 2013 Aug 1 Secret 204
PREM19/1004 Economic policy (Central Policy Review Staff (CPRS) papers on pensions) 1983 Mar 10 1983 Jul 29 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 93
PREM19/1006 Economic policy (Consultation with International Monetary Fund (IMF); meetings of IMF and World Bank) (Part 1) 1979 Jun 7 1983 Feb 15 2013 Aug 1 Secret 240
PREM19/1007 Economic policy (G7 Summit - Williamsburg) (Part 11) 1982 Sep 21 1983 Apr 28 2013 Aug 1 Secret 229
PREM19/1008 Economic policy (G7 Summit - Williamsburg) (Part 12) 1983 Apr 25 1983 May 26 2013 Aug 1 Secret 325
PREM19/1010 Education (Training colleges; extension of technical and vocational education; National Training Commission; responsibility for work related training) (Part 1) 1982 Oct 25 1983 Dec 23 2013 Aug 1 5 Secret 255
PREM19/1011 Education (Wider parental choice; education vouchers) 1982 Nov 5 1983 Nov 18 2013 Aug 1 Secret 205

Pages