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 releasesort descending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages Link to selections
PREM19/3107 Parliament ​​​​​​​(House of Commons procedure: Select Committees) (Part 10) 1989 Apr 7 1990 May 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3349 Gabon ​​​​​​​(UK/Gabon relations)(Part 1) 1980 Jan 3 1991 Mar 12 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3550 Soviet Union ​​​​​​​(Human rights and the position of dissidents in the Soviet Union: policy towards the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE))​​​​​​​ (Part 1) 1990 Jun 1 1991 Mar 4 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2725 Home Affairs​​​​​​​ (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) 1989 May 24 1989 Jul 17 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3175 Soviet Union ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's visits to the Soviet Union, September 1989 and June 1990: policy) (Part 3) 1989 Apr 19 1990 May 31 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3392 Immigration ​​​​​​​(Immigration Rules: asylum; immigration figures)(Part 5) 1990 Sep 1 1991 Nov 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3595 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Public sector pay policy: Treasury monitoring reports) (Part 14) 1987 Sep 22 1991 May 30 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2847 Security (Access to classified documents and information by individuals and allied countries) 1984 Aug 2 1989 Dec 15 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3233 Cayman Island ​​​​​​​(Relations with UK: internal situation) 1988 Sep 14 1990 Dec 17 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3277 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Paris Economic Summit, July 1989)(Part 27) 1989 Jan 13 1989 Jul 7 2017 Jul 20
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
PREM19/3106 Parliament ​​​​​​​(Appointment of Parliamentary Private Secretaries) (Part 3) 1986 Jun 10 1990 Dec 31 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3343 France ​​​​​​​(Internal situation)(Part 3) 1986 Oct 7 1991 Nov 21 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2714 Government Machinery (Review of the Exchequer and Audit Department Acts: role and salary of Comptroller and Auditor General) (Part 3) 1983 Feb 11 1989 Sep 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3174 Soviet Union ​​​​​​​(Human rights and the position of dissidents in the Soviet Union: policy towards the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)) (Part 2) 1986 Jun 17 1990 May 26 2017 Jul 20

Pages