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
PREM19/4850 National Health (Policy on smoking and health: tobacco advertising) 1980 Apr 28 1994 May 31 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4858 NATO (Appointment of Secretary General of NATO) (Part 1) 1980 Sep 1 1994 Jun 1 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4860 NATO (Call on the Prime Minister by the Chairman of NATO) 1980 Mar 1 1994 May 18 2019 Feb 6
PREM19/4869 Panama (UK/Panama relations: internal situation) (Part 1) 1983 Nov 15 1994 May 13 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4870 Papua New Guinea (Relations) (Part 1) 1980 Mar 21 1994 Dec 30 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4872 Parliament (Prime Minister's meeting with the Speaker of House of Commons) (Part 1) 1983 Nov 14 1994 Mar 7 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4873 Parliament (The Speaker's overseas travel plans) (Part 1) 1979 Jul 31 1994 Mar 24 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4887 Parliament (House of Lords procedure: televising of House of Lords proceedings) (Part 2) 1983 Feb 3 1994 Dec 23 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4907 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings and correspondence with President of the National Farmers' Union and National Farmers' Union of Scotland) (Part 1) 1979 Nov 2 1994 Feb 4 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4923 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with Jeffrey Sterling to discuss shipping, the UK economy and other issues) 1989 Jan 9 1994 Jul 13 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4927 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with Lord Mayors of London, 25 July 1983, 13 May 1992, 2 November 1993) (Part 1) 1983 Jul 22 1994 Nov 16 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4928 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Admiral Lee Baggett Jnr, SACLANT (Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic), 13 March 1986: includes correspondence regarding a telephone call between the PM and General John Galvin, US Army Supreme Commander Allied Powers Europe, 3 February 1992) 1986 Jan 30 1992 Jan 16 2018 Dec 28

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