Archive

Treasury Private Office papers

In 2012 www.margaretthatcher.org uncovered through an FOI request the existence of a vast cache of secret papers stored at H.M. Treasury, some 4,850 files from the Private Office of successive Chancellors (and Chief Secretaries) between 1979 and 1997.

The files contain the most politically sensitive documents from the very top of the Treasury, the small circle of Ministers, Special Advisers and Private Secretaries, which were stored, when in use, only a few doors from the Chancellor's room for convenience and security. Their like is rarely found at the National Archives in Kew. These documents are of deep historical interest, an intact Private Office collection in scale and importance exceeded only by that from No.10 itself, relied on by Treasury ministers when writing their memoirs. It is an un-looted tomb in Whitehall's Valley of the Kings - the Palace accountant's rather than the Pharaoh's, but well worth the ticket.

When it first revealed the existence of the files the Treasury stated that it intended to destroy the whole lot, waiting politely till the various Chancellors died off. It was claimed, quite mistakenly, that the contents of these files are either ephemeral or copied elsewhere, and so should not be considered part of "the definitive policy record" maintained by its various divisions for archiving at Kew.

Later, and following representations, officials denied that destruction was ever intended. The first section, covering the Chancellorship of Sir Geoffrey Howe, 1979-83, was released at TNA in 2016; the files have been digitised and uploaded to the list below. The bulk of Nigel Lawson's files, 1983-89, were released at TNA in early 2018 and have also been digitised; they are being uploaded progressively and many are now available on this page. The spreadsheet giving the full list 1979-97 can be downloaded below.

Although some of the files relate to 1979 and 1980, the filing system glimpsed here only got into full operation in 1981, so earlier records are something of a legacy from what went before and are significantly fewer.

The Treasury has also released Nick Ridley's surviving Private Office files as Financial Secretary to the Treasury. These are diferent in form to the Chancellor's files, consisting largely of photocopies of minutes and meetings records relating to directly to Ridley with very little incoming correspondence. They are not listed in the spreadsheet already mentioned, so must derive from the 'unstructured' files already referred to. They are in rough chronological order - a sort of day file.

How to use this page?

Below are links to the downloadable files in numerical order. The original file names have been modified to convey content more readily.

An average file has around 100 pages.

Some of these downloads are very big, as large as 50MB, though most are in the range 1-10MB.

Where documents within a file have been selected for the site database, they can easily be viewed by clicking the file name link.

Selected documents in site database

Documents from the files selected for the site database can be read here. Progressively more will be uploaded over time.

Showing items 101 - 150 of 1283

Per page:
File name File title Begins Ends Release date Any docs withheld? Classification Pages
T639/113 International (Commonwealth Finance Ministers meeting August 1982) Begins: 1982 Aug 3 Ends: 1982 Aug 23 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 285
T639/117 Europe (Anglo-German Summit October 1982) Begins: 1982 May 25 Ends: 1982 Oct 28 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 301
T639/118 Europe (Anglo-French Summit November 1982) Begins: 1982 Oct 25 Ends: 1982 Nov 4 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 177
T639/119 International (Versailles Economic Summit June 1982) Begins: 1982 Feb 4 Ends: 1985 May 26 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 51
T639/120 International (Versailles Economic Summit June 1982) Begins: 1982 May 27 Ends: 1985 Jun 6 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 116
T639/121 Europe (Common Agricultural Policy the thirty day mandate) Begins: 1982 Apr 1 Ends: 1982 May 17 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 307
T639/122 International (North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit June 1982) Begins: 1982 Mar 3 Ends: 1982 Jun 2 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 211
T639/123 International (Chancellor's talks in Washington September 1982) Begins: 1982 Sep 6 Ends: 1982 Sep 20 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 165
T639/124 Budget (Hire purchase controls) Begins: 1982 Feb 18 Ends: 1982 Aug 2 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 87
T639/125 International (Chancellor's visit to Saudi Arabia December 1982) Begins: 1982 Dec 3 Ends: 1982 Dec 31 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 182
T639/128 Europe (The European Monetary System) Begins: 1979 Jul 13 Ends: 1982 Feb 24 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 167
T639/129 Public expenditure (Public expenditure in the longer term) Begins: 1982 Jan 20 Ends: 1982 Aug 27 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 362
T639/130 Public expenditure (Public expenditure in the longer term) Begins: 1982 Aug 31 Ends: 1982 Nov 30 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 232
T639/132 Budget (Defence equipment procurement) Begins: 1979 May 13 Ends: 1982 Jan 25 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 62
T639/138 Budget (Briefing 1983) Begins: 1982 Nov 8 Ends: 1983 Feb 2 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 457
T639/139 Budget (Briefing 1983) Begins: 1983 Feb 2 Ends: 1983 Feb 14 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 443
T639/140 Budget (Briefing 1983) Begins: 1983 Feb 22 Ends: 1983 Mar 8 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 552
T639/141 Budget (Briefing 1983) Begins: 1983 Mar 8 Ends: 1983 Mar 14 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 380
T639/142 Budget (Briefing 1983) Begins: 1983 Mar 14 Ends: 1983 Mar 28 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 564
T639/143 Budget (Speech 1983 second and third draft) Begins: 1983 Feb 18 Ends: 1983 Feb 25 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 441
T639/144 Budget (Speech 1983 fourth and fifth draft) Begins: 1983 Feb 28 Ends: 1983 Mar 9 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 447
T639/145 Budget (Speech 1983 sixth draftt) Begins: 1983 Mar 8 Ends: 1983 Mar 9 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 513
T639/146 Budget (Speech 1983 seventh draftt) Begins: 1983 Mar 10 Ends: 1983 Mar 11 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 543
T639/147 Budget (Speech 1983 eighth draftt) Begins: 1983 Mar 10 Ends: 1983 Mar 14 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 217
T639/151/1 Budget (Broadcasting 1983) Begins: 1983 Mar 11 Ends: 1983 Mar 17 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 341
T639/151/2 Budget (Broadcasting 1983) Begins: 1983 Mar 11 Ends: 1983 Mar 17 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 268
T639/152/1 Budget (Packages 1983) Begins: 1982 Dec 8 Ends: 1983 Mar 2 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 388
T639/152/2 Budget (Packages 1983) Begins: 1982 Dec 8 Ends: 1983 Mar 2 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 266
T639/153 Budget (1983 Indirect taxes and petrol DERV) Begins: 1983 Jan 21 Ends: 1983 Mar 9 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 203
T639/154 Monetary policy (Monetary seminars with outside commentators 1983) Begins: 1983 Jan 20 Ends: 1983 Mar 10 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 201
T639/155 Budget (Debate 1983) Begins: 1983 Feb 22 Ends: 1983 Mar 21 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 270
T639/156 Budget (Resolutions 1983) Begins: 1983 Mar 15 Ends: 1983 Mar 15 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 237
T639/159 Budget (Financial Statement Budget Report 1983) Begins: 1982 Oct 12 Ends: 1983 Mar 15 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 412
T639/160 Budget (Summary 1983) Begins: 1983 Mar 11 Ends: 1983 Mar 11 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 139
T639/161 Budget (Speech 1983) Begins: 1982 Jan 11 Ends: 1983 Mar 15 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 461
T639/162 Budget (Press notices 1983) Begins: 1982 Nov 18 Ends: 1983 Apr 12 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 291
T639/163 Budget (1983, Aide memoire) Begins: 1981 Feb 12 Ends: 1983 Feb 28 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Restricted Pages: 372
T639/164 Political (Department's five year forward look programmes) Begins: 1982 Sep 1 Ends: 1983 Feb 7 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 267
T639/165 Budget (World economic trends and the 1983 budget) Begins: 1982 Sep 23 Ends: 1983 Jan 6 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 266
T639/170 International (Williamsburg G7 Economic Summit, 28-30 May 1983) Begins: 1983 Apr 28 Ends: 1983 May 12 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 346
T639/171 International (Williamsburg G7 Economic Summit) Begins: 1983 May 12 Ends: 1983 May 25 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 321
T639/172 International (Williamsburg G7 Economic Summit) Begins: 1983 May 25 Ends: 1983 Jun 27 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 331
T639/179 Public expenditure (Waste in public expenditure) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1979 Dec 20 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Personal & Secret Pages: 523
T639/180 Europe (European Community (EC) Economic and Finance Council (ECOFIN), 13 June 1983) Begins: 1983 Jun 10 Ends: 1983 Jun 10 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 116
T639/182 Monetary policy (Treasury and Civil Service Committee (TCSC) hearing on international monetary conditions and exchange rate policy, 31 January 1983) Begins: 1983 Jan 26 Ends: 1983 Jan 28 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 231
T639/183 Monetary policy (Treasury and Civil Service Committee (TCSC) hearing on international monetary conditions and exchange rate policy, 31 January 1983) Begins: 1983 Jan 28 Ends: 1983 Feb 1 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 130
T639/184 Political (Coordination of Treasury policy: Forward look, stocktaking and key areas briefing) Begins: 1982 Dec 3 Ends: 1983 Jan 4 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 363
T639/185 Political (Coordination of Treasury policy: Forward look, stocktaking and key areas briefing) Begins: 1983 Jan 9 Ends: 1983 Jul 20 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Secret Pages: 355
T639/186 Political (Coordination of Treasury policy: Forward look, stocktaking and key areas briefing) Begins: 1983 Jul 26 Ends: 1983 Dec 23 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 268
T639/187 International (Chancellor's meetings at the International Monetary Fund) Begins: 1983 Feb 1 Ends: 1983 Jun 14 Date of release: 2012 Classification: Confidential Pages: 290
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