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
PREM19/308 Nationalised Industries (British Steel Corporation; industrial action by steel unions; contingency planning) (Part 3) 1980 Jan 8 1980 Jan 22 2010 Dec 30 Secret 319
PREM19/307 Nationalised Industries (British Steel Corporation; industrial action by steel unions; contingency planning) (Part 2) 1979 Nov 28 1980 Jan 7 2010 Dec 30 Confidential 258
PREM19/306 Nationalised Industries (Privatisation) (Part 2) 1980 Feb 21 1980 Oct 17 2010 Dec 30 Confidential 150
PREM19/305 Nationalised Industries (Privatisation) (Part 1) 1979 May 9 1980 Feb 18 2010 Dec 30 Confidential 97
PREM19/304 Nationalised Industries (Gas and electricity prices; financial targets and energy pricing policy) (Part 2) 1979 Mar 26 1980 Oct 2 2010 Dec 30 Secret 164
PREM19/303 Nationalised Industries (Gas and electricity prices; financial targets and energy pricing policy) (Part 1) 1979 Sep 28 1980 Mar 21 2010 Dec 30 Confidential 231
PREM19/302 Nationalised Industries (Coal mines) (Part 1) 1979 Jun 27 1980 Mar 17 2010 Dec 30 Confidential 145
PREM19/301 National Health (Overspending by Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Area Health Authority (AHA); removal of powers by Social Services Secretary; AHA resumption of powers following Court ruling) 1979 Jul 31 1980 Mar 3 2010 Dec 30 Confidential 30
PREM19/300 National Health (Pneumoconiosis compensation schemes) 1979 Oct 25 1980 Feb 8 2010 Dec 30 Confidential 24
PREM19/299 National Health (Fluoridation of water supplies; correspondence with Sir Emmanuel Kaye) 1979 Aug 9 1980 Mar 27 2010 Dec 30 Unclassified 69
PREM19/298 Morocco (Visit to UK by former Prime Minister, Ahmed Osman, March 1980: meeting with Prime Minister) 1980 Feb 13 1980 Mar 12 2010 Dec 30 Confidential 20
PREM19/297 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 4) 1980 Jul 2 1980 Aug 29 2010 Dec 30 Confidential 297
PREM19/296 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 3) 1980 May 13 1980 Jun 30 2010 Dec 30 Confidential 275
PREM19/295 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 2) 1979 Sep 21 1980 May 9 2010 Dec 30 Secret 250
PREM19/294 Memoirs (BBC programmes based on Lord Mountbatten’s memoirs) 1980 Jan 16 1980 Nov 11 2015 Jun 23

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