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.

 

File name Title Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld?sort descending File classification Pages
PREM19/2644 Education (General policy on education) (Part 21) 1989 Apr 3 1989 Jun 30 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/105 Regional policy (Review of policy, creation of Enterprize Zones) 1979 May 24 1979 Nov 5 2009 Dec 30 Confidential 163
PREM19/1455 Economic policy (The Budget, 1984 and 1985) (Part 13) 1984 Mar 15 1985 Mar 8 2014 Dec 30 Budget Secret 364
PREM19/1119 Royal family (Public memorial to Lord Mountbatten: statue unveiling ceremony, 2 November 1983) (Part 3) 1983 Oct 3 1983 Nov 8 2014 Feb 14 Confidential 137
PREM19/782 Government machinery (Future of quangos; action following review by Sir Leo Pliatzky) (Part 2) 1980 Jan 24 1981 Feb 27 2012 Dec 28 Confidential 324
PREM19/447 Economic policy (Report by Central Policy Review Staff (CPRS) on pay: ministerial consideration) 1981 Jun 19 1981 Sep 22 2011 Dec 30 Secret 106
PREM19/4332 NATO (NATO Ministerial meetings) (Part 2) 1990 Jun 1 1993 Jun 10 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3127 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Dr Hans Blix, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), 19 June 1990) 1990 Mar 12 1990 Jul 11 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 25
PREM19/2373 Overseas Aid (Management of Aid and Trade Provision (ATP): Hawker Siddeley diesels for Indonesia) 1984 Feb 6 1987 Feb 18 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 71
PREM19/160 Defence (Nuclear release procedures; UK/US understandings on the use of nuclear weapons and bases) (Part 1) 1979 May 9 1980 Mar 25 Retained Unknown
PREM19/2504 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 5) 1987 Jan 8 1987 Mar 12 Retained Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/1718 Economic policy (Financial Services Bill: Stock Exchange deregulation, the 'Big Bang' commercial fraud; Roskill Report on Fraud Trials) (Part 3) 1985 Feb 3 1986 Sep 26 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/25 Economic policy (Strategy) (Part 2) 1979 Jun 17 1979 Jul 13 2009 Dec 30 Secret 167
PREM19/1039 Government machinery (Departments' programmes for next five years; preparation of 'forward look' reports) 1982 Sep 13 1983 Mar 17 2013 Aug 1 Secret 73
PREM19/702 Economic policy (Budget) (Part 8) 1982 Jun 7 1982 Oct 1 2012 Dec 28 Confidential 68

Pages

  • «
  • <
  • Page
  • of 248
  • >
  • »