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
PREM19/2081 Economic Policy (Contracting-out terms for occupational pension schemes 1983-1988) 1982 Feb 17 1985 Sep 1 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/3492 Prime Minister ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's meetings with Robert Maxwell: death of Robert Maxwell) 1987 Nov 18 1991 Dec 12 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/4014 Brazil (UK relations with Brazil: internal situation)(Part 1) 1982 Sep 30 1993 Nov 26 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/1839 Mapower (Employment policy: enterprise and employment measures; feasibility study of a 'Workfare' scheme to replace long term unemployment in UK) (Part 3) 1985 Aug 5 1986 May 30 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/1714 Economic policy (G7 Summit - Tokyo) (Part 20) 1985 Jun 14 1986 May 6 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/1339 Parliament (House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology: scientific advice to government; engineering research and development) 1979 Nov 12 1984 Oct 16 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/3662 Drugs (Drugs) (Part 6) 1990 May 9 1992 Oct 5 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3090 Ministers ​​​​​​​(Presence of Ministers in the House of Commons) 1990 Apr 11 1990 Apr 18 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2085 Economic Policy (Domestic monetary policy) (Part 17) 1987 Jul 6 1987 Dec 8 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2928 Comoros (UK/Comoros relations) 1987 Jun 5 1990 Oct 16 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3964 Transport (London Regional Transport: East-West Crossrail)(Part 4) 1990 May 8 1992 Aug 27 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3331 Finland ​​​​​​​(UK/Finland relations: appointment of Prime Ministers; visits of President and Prime Ministers of Finland)(Part 1) 1979 Jun 1 1991 Dec 3 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2642 Economic Policy (Prime Minister's meetings with Dr Armand Hammer of Occidental Petroleum) (Part 2) 1982 Sep 29 1989 Dec 18 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2675 European Policy (European Monetary System (EMS)) (Part 3) 1987 Jun 10 1989 Feb 28 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3537 Security ​​​​​​​(Ministerial protection (personal): security arrangements for the overnight policing of Ministers' cars; VIP security)​​​​​​​ (Part 2) 1987 Oct 2 1991 Jul 26 Retained Under Sec 3.4

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