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 PM's 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.

Chancellor of the Exchequer's Private Office files, 1979-89

1979-89: Chancellor's Private Office files [links to hundreds of digitised files from the Chancellorships of Sir Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson]

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.

 

File name Title Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classificationsort ascending Pages
PREM19/3749 European Policy (Prime Minister's meeting with Sir James Scott-Hopkins, leader of European Conservative Group in European Parliament: meetings with the European Democratic Group of MEPs) (Part 3) 1988 Feb 1 1992 Sep 21 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/4449 Social Services (Uprating of social security benefits) (Part 7) 1990 Nov 1 1993 Feb 25 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4330 NATO (Prime Minister's meetings with the Supreme Allied Commander Europe) (SACEUR) 1979 May 23 1993 Oct 27 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2884 Transport (London Regional Transport: Central London Rail Study) (Part 2) 1986 Dec 11 1989 Mar 20 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2635 Economic Policy (Investigation powers under the Companies and Financial Services Acts: disclosure of interests in shares; Tokyo Stock Exchange) (Part 5) 1987 Jun 15 1989 Jan 25 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1968 South Africa (Internal situation) (Part 11) 1986 Jul 1 1986 Jul 15 2016 Feb 19 3
PREM19/4532 Civil Service (Introduction of new technology into the Civil Service: Project Gemstone; Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) in government departments) (Part 3) 1986 May 16 1992 Jul 26 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/1921 Regional Policy (Inner city policy: regeneration of Liverpool and London; Docklands Urban Development Corporation; Docklands Light Railway and Canary Wharf; South Cardiff urban renewal) (Part 8) 1986 Feb 4 1986 Nov 29 2015 Dec 30
PREM19/4215 Home Affairs (Open Government) (Part 2) 1988 Jun 1 1993 Jan 29 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/1908 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, April 1985: administrative arrangements) (part 2) 1985 Apr 4 1986 Jan 15 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/1754 European Policy (Conservative European Reform Group (ERG): meetings with Prime Minister) 1980 Dec 11 1986 Apr 14 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/2989 European Policy (UK air transport policy in Europe) 1979 Nov 8 1990 May 8 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2738 Industrial Policy (Research and development, including European Community framework programme for research and development) (Part 7) 1989 Sep 1 1989 Dec 28 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/4040 Commonwealth (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association: annual conference) 1983 Jul 14 1993 Apr 16 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3055 Israel (Visits to UK by Menachem Begin, Israeli Prime Minister, and his successors Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres) (Part 1) 1979 May 6 1990 Jun 12 2017 Jul 20

Pages