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 ascending
PREM19/807 Industrial policy (UK newsprint production: closure of Bowater's mill at Ellesmere Port) 1980 Jul 28 1982 Dec 1 2012 Dec 28 Secret 254
PREM19/806 Industrial policy (Industrial action in the ports; future of Port of London Authority (PLA) and Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC)) (Part 1) 1979 Oct 18 1982 May 5 2012 Dec 28 Secret 124
PREM19/804 Industrial policy (Industrial relations law) (Part 8) 1981 Oct 7 1982 Feb 26 2012 Dec 28 Secret 205
PREM19/803 Industrial policy (Future of British Leyland (BL)) (Part 6) 1981 Nov 1 1982 Jul 29 2012 Dec 28 2 Secret 326
PREM19/802 India (Visit to UK by Rajiv Gandhi, September 1982: call on Prime Minister) 1982 Aug 26 1982 Oct 27 2012 Dec 28 Confidential 23
PREM19/801 India (Visit to UK by Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, March 1982: meeting with Prime Minister; Festival of India) (Part 2) 1982 Mar 1 1982 Aug 5 2012 Dec 28 Confidential 229
PREM19/800 India (Visit to UK by Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, March 1982: Festival of India 1982) (Part 1) 1981 Feb 17 1982 Feb 27 2012 Dec 28 7 Confidential 207
PREM19/799 India (UK/Indian relations) (Part 2) 1981 Jan 30 1982 Nov 19 2012 Dec 28 1 Confidential 269
PREM19/798 India (Prime Minister's visit to India, April 1981: follow-up action) (Part 2) 1981 Apr 19 1982 Feb 16 2012 Dec 28 Secret 95
PREM19/797 Immigration (White Paper on proposals for changing the immigration rules; review of immigration appeals system) (Part 1) 1979 Sep 19 1982 Aug 26 2012 Dec 28 Confidential 167
PREM19/796 Iceland (Visit to UK by President Vigdis Finnbogadottir, February 1982: meeting with Prime Minister) 1981 Jun 25 1982 Feb 21 2012 Dec 28 Confidential 99
PREM19/805 Industrial policy (Information technology (IT): appointment of IT Advisory Panel and establishment of IT Unit in Cabinet Office; Kenneth Baker's role as Minister for IT) (Part 2) 1981 Apr 1 1981 Oct 31 2012 Dec 28 Restricted 158
PREM19/795 Housing (Review of the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977) 1980 Jul 16 1982 Apr 7 2012 Dec 28 Confidential 50
PREM19/794 Housing (Housing policy; Housing Act 1980; council house sales) (Part 3) 1981 Oct 27 1982 Dec 8 2012 Dec 28 Secret 143
PREM19/793 Housing (Housing policy; Housing Act 1980; council house sales) (Part 2) 1980 Aug 1 1981 Sep 23 2012 Dec 28 Confidential 205

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