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? File classification Pages
PREM19/4026 Canada (Visits to UK by Canadian Prime Minister, Mr Mulroney and his successors) (Part 2) 1988 Apr 7 1993 Jul 2 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/4027 Cars (Replacement of cars at No 10: protection of Prime Minister's cars) (Part 3) 1986 Feb 4 1993 Feb 10 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/4033 Civil Service (Property Services Agency restructuring: Wardall Enquiry) (Part 4) 1990 Aug 3 1993 Jun 23 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/4040 Commonwealth (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association: annual conference) 1983 Jul 14 1993 Apr 16 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/4042 Cyprus (Internal situation/relations) (Part 4) 1989 Apr 1 1993 Feb 28 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4043 Czechoslovakia (UK/Czechoslovakia relations: Prime Minister's visit) 1983 May 17 1993 Jan 4 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4050 Defence (The D Notice System: Defence Press and Broadcasting Committee (DPBC)) 1980 Mar 14 1993 Jul 13 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/4051 Defence (Strategic food stockpile) 1979 Jun 20 1993 Feb 22 2018 Jul 24 Secret 119
PREM19/4052 Defence (Prime Minister's visits to Clyde Submarine Base: anniversaries in the history of Nuclear Powered Ballistic Submarines (SSBN); launch of a frigate in Scotland) 1989 Jun 15 1993 Jan 13 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/4053 Defence ( Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve Forces: report of the Review Body on Armed Forces; pay on Bounties for the Reserve Forces; mobilisation of Reserves; reinforcement plan) 1979 Jul 4 1993 Aug 5 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/4055 Defence (Nuclear test veterans and workers) (Part 1) 1990 Dec 14 1993 Dec 8 2018 Jul 24 Confidential 203
PREM19/4060 Defence (Meetings with the Chiefs of Staff) (Part 1) 1979 Jun 19 1993 Oct 28 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/4061 Defence (Armed forces pay: service doctors and dentists pay; local overseas allowance) (Part 4) 1987 Nov 16 1993 Feb 12 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/4066 Disasters (Damage caused by storms and severe weather conditions: storm damage after the hurricane on 16 October 1987; damage after the storms of January and February 1990) (Part 1) 1987 Oct 16 1993 Jul 5 2018 Jul 24 Secret 246
PREM19/4068 Djibouti (UK/Djibouti relations) 1986 Aug 6 1993 Sep 19 2018 Jul 24

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