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 Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pagessort descending Link to selections
PREM19/3639 Deaths (Deaths of members of the Royal Family and former Prime Ministers) 1979 Jun 22 1992 Jun 16 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/1894 Prime Minister (Meeting with Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and Tom Clarke MP to discuss future of Ravenscraig and Gartcosh steel mills) 1985 Jul 19 1986 Jan 29 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2549 Syria (Internal situation: UK/Syrian relations; Syrian involvement in the Hindawi affair and other terrorist activities; diplomatic and commercial measures by UK, USA, Canada, and European Community states) 1979 May 7 1987 Jul 27 Retained Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/1753 European Policy (Visits to UK by Presidents of the European Commission, Gaston Thorn (March 1983 - June 1984) and Jacques Delors (May 1985 - February 1987): meetings with Prime Minister) (Part 2) 1983 Feb 15 1986 Dec 31 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/3227 Cabinet ​​​​​​​(Arrangements for Cabinet business)(Part 20) 1990 Sep 5 1991 Jan 31 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3824 Ireland (Brian Nelson: public interest issues and protection of intelligence sources and methods​​​​​​​) 1990 Sep 1 1992 Dec 14 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3052 Ireland (Renewal of Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978; consideration of section 12 (detention); reviews of the Act; Government's security policy in Northern Ireland) 1980 Jun 25 1990 Nov 8 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2327 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 17) 1987 Oct 2 1988 Feb 29 Retained Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/1671 Aerospace (Westland Helicopters) (Part 6) 1986 Aug 1 1986 Nov 19 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/3373 Government Machinery ​​​​​​​(Shareholding in British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL): future of BNFL; BNFL pay negotiations) 1981 Feb 19 1991 Jul 1 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3079 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 26) 1990 Aug 30 1990 Aug 31 Retained under Section 3.4
PREM19/2908 Arts and Amenities (Future of the British Library: Prime Minister's meetings with Lord Trend and Sir Frederick Dainton and Minister for the Arts, Richard Luce) 1979 Aug 21 1990 May 11 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2084 Economic Policy (Domestic monetary policy) (Part 16) 1986 Oct 1 1987 Jun 23 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1248 Government machinery (Review of government statistical services, study led by Sir Derek Rayner; control of government statistical surveys) 1979 Oct 10 1984 Mar 6 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/3518 Royal Family ​​​​​​​(Celebration of the Queen Mother's 80th and 90th birthdays: gift by the Cabinet; Loyal Address in Parliament) 1979 Aug 1 1991 Jan 8 2017 Jul 20

Pages

  • «
  • <
  • Page
  • of 234
  • >
  • »