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 Endssort ascending Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages Link to selections
PREM19/2997 Germany (Anglo-German relations) (Part 5) 1989 Sep 1 1990 Sep 13 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3367 Government Machinery ​​​​​​​(Forthcoming announcements and publications)(Part 5) 1989 Sep 1 1991 Jul 22 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2724 Home Affairs (Acid house parties) 1989 Aug 22 1989 Dec 5 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3658 Disasters Thames riverboat disaster: sinking of the Marchioness, 20 August 1989 1989 Aug 20 1992 Jul 3 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/2627 Economic Policy (Public spending) (Part 43) 1989 Aug 2 1989 Dec 21 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2621 Disasters (Disaster at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, 15 April 1989) (Part 2) 1989 Aug 1 1990 Apr 10 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2641 Economic Policy (Paris Economic Summit, July 1989) 1989 Aug 1 1989 Sep 4 Retained Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/3421 Lebanon ​​​​​​​(Internal situation: UK/Lebanese relations)(Part 9) 1989 Aug 1 1991 Jul 31 Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3512 Regional Policy ​​​​​​​(Inner cities policy and problems: Action for Cities; regeneration of London Docklands)(Part 17) 1989 Aug 1 1991 Apr 12 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3342 Foreign Policy ​​​​​​​(Summary notes on Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) Assessments)(Part 4) 1989 Aug 1 1991 Feb 22 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2765 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 14) 1989 Aug 1 1989 Oct 1 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3944 Security (The Bloch Affair) 1989 Jul 25 1992 Sep 2 Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/2805 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Professor Margaret Turner-Warwick. President of the Royal College of Physicians, July 1989) 1989 Jul 23 1989 Jul 31 2016 Dec 30 Confidential 21
PREM19/3378 Home Affairs ​​​​​​​(Government support for voluntary bodies)(Part 2) 1989 Jul 10 1991 Oct 17 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3594 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Indebtedness of various countries: Treasury reports on international debt)​​​​​​​ (Part 8) 1989 Jul 7 1991 Oct 31 2017 Jul 20

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