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.

 

Link to full file File name Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classificationsort ascending Pages Link to selections
PREM19/3093 National Health ​​​​​​​(Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): implementation of NHS reforms) (Part 23) 1989 Nov 1 1990 Mar 30 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2079 Economic Policy (Budget) (Part 16) 1986 May 12 1987 Sep 4 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2920 Canada (UK/Canadian relations) (Part 6) 1985 Sep 5 1990 Jun 25 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3969 Turkey (Visits to the UK by Turkish Prime Ministers, Turgut Ozal and Suleyman Demirel) 1985 Oct 29 1992 Nov 26 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/1239 Foreign policy (Seminars on foreign policy at Chequers, October 1984) 1984 Jun 1 1984 Oct 19 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/3334 Foreign Policy ​​​​​​​(Relations between UK, France and Federal Republic of Germany) 1987 Apr 3 1991 Feb 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2673 European Policy (European Convention on Human Rights) (Part 2) 1986 Jun 6 1989 Sep 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2671 European Policy (Proposals for a common format for the passports of European Community member states: abolition of frontiers formalities within the European Community) 1980 Apr 14 1989 Mar 23 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3538 Security ​​​​​​​(Security of the Prime Minister's official country residence, Chequers)​​​​​​​ (Part 5) 1988 Feb 3 1991 Jun 26 Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/1680 Cabinet (Questions of Procedure for Ministers) (Part 2) 1981 Nov 18 1986 Jan 31 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/3120 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with Jan Steyn, head of the Urban Foundation in South Africa) 1988 May 13 1990 May 2 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3766 Germany (Visits to the UK by Chancellor Kohl) (Part 11A) 1990 Apr 2 1992 Nov 6 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3142 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's visit to Paris to attend the Heads of Government dinner, November 1989: administrative arrangements) 1989 Nov 15 1990 Jan 10 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3382 Home Affairs ​​​​​​​(Probation Service pay: reorganisation of the Probation Service) 1979 Jun 5 1991 Jun 11 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2032 Cambodia (Internal situation: derecognition of Pol Pot regime; Prince Sihanouk) (Part 1) 1979 Oct 16 1988 Nov 10 2016 Jul 21

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