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
PREM19/3460 National Health ​​​​​​​(Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): implementation of NHS reforms)(Part 25) 1990 Jun 1 1990 Dec 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/4199 Histories (Policy on commemorations of World War One and Two) (Part 1) 1990 May 31 1993 Dec 31 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3004 Germany (Prime Minister's meeting with Lothar de Maiziere, Prime Minister of the Germany Democratic Republic, June 1990) 1990 May 31 1990 Jun 27 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3677 Economic Policy (Taxation of individuals, including overseas voters and families: launch of Tax-Exempt Special Savings Account (TESSA) schemes) (Part 5) 1990 May 22 1992 Jul 20 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3736 European Policy (European Council meeting in Edinburgh, 11-12 December 1992) (Part 41) 1990 May 21 1992 Apr 28 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
PREM19/3662 Drugs (Drugs) (Part 6) 1990 May 9 1992 Oct 5 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3964 Transport (London Regional Transport: East-West Crossrail)(Part 4) 1990 May 8 1992 Aug 27 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3274 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Domestic monetary policy)(Part 22) 1990 May 3 1991 May 31 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3066 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 19) 1990 May 2 1990 Jun 29 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3532 Security ​​​​​​​(Security of the Secret Service)​​​​​​​ (Part 14) 1990 May 1 1991 Jun 27 Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3610 Arts and Amenities (Policy towards the arts: private sponsorship of the arts) (Part 4) 1990 May 1 1992 Dec 22 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/2976 European Policy (European Community budget: developments in the European Community) (Part 46) 1990 May 1 1990 Jun 29 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3332 Food ​​​​​​​(Food safety)(Part 4) 1990 May 1 1991 Aug 9 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2983 European Policy (European Monetary System (EMS): economic and monetary union) (Part 7) 1990 May 1 1990 Jun 27 2016

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