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
PREM19/3754 European Policy (Visits to the UK by Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission)​​​​​​​ (Part 3) 1987 Jan 2 1992 Nov 16 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3129 Prime Minister ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's meeting with Thomas Phillips, Chairman of Raytheon, 19 June 1990) 1990 May 14 1990 Jun 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3074 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 21) 1990 Aug 2 1990 Aug 6 Retained under Section 3.4
PREM19/3075 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 22) 1990 Aug 7 1990 Aug 12 Retained under Section 3.4
PREM19/3369 Government Machinery ​​​​​​​(Rayner Scrutiny Programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste: Next Steps initiative; future of Deregulation Initiative)(Part 35) 1990 Aug 1 1991 Jan 28 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2883 Trade (Consumer safety) 1984 Feb 6 1989 May 31 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
PREM19/1966 South Africa (Internal situation) (Part 9) 1986 Mar 3 1986 May 30 2016 Feb 19 2
PREM19/3575 Transport ​​​​​​​(The Channel Tunnel: Channel Tunnel Rail Link)​​​​​​​ (Part 8) 1990 Sep 4 1991 Aug 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2774 Ministers (Rules governing travel by Ministers) (Part 2) 1982 Apr 6 1989 Sep 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3802 Housing (Building societies: Green Paper 'Building Societies: A New Framework'; Building Societies Bill; mortgage rates) (Part 2) 1984 Jul 2 1992 Dec 10 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/1312 Manpower (Strategy for industry and employment; reducing the burden of regulation on the economy; Chequers seminar on employment - follow-up work) (Part 2) 1984 Apr 2 1984 May 29 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/3208 USA ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's visits to the USA)(Part 10) 1990 Sep 21 1990 Dec 28 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/1659 USA (Prime Minister's visit to Washington, February 1985) (Part 4B) 1985 Feb 13 1985 Mar 15 2014 Dec 30
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

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