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
PREM19/3593 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Friendly Societies legislation) 1989 Dec 12 1991 Oct 7 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2826 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to the NATO Summit, Brussels, May 1989: administrative arrangements) 1989 Apr 6 1989 Jun 2 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3230 Cabinet ​​​​​​​(Correspondence regarding photographs of the Cabinet and the Whips) 1979 May 10 1991 Mar 18 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3437 Manpower ​​​​​​​(Special employment measures: measures to tackle rising unemployment; Employment Training and special needs; youth training)(Part 25) 1990 Nov 1 1991 Sep 30 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2967 Environmental Affairs (Environmental pollution: climate change; Environment White Paper) (Part 15) 1990 Mar 1 1990 Apr 30 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3274 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Domestic monetary policy)(Part 22) 1990 May 3 1991 May 31 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3512 Regional Policy ​​​​​​​(Inner cities policy and problems: Action for Cities; regeneration of London Docklands)(Part 17) 1989 Aug 1 1991 Apr 12 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3102 NATO ​​​​​​​(NATO Summits) (Part 4) 1989 Nov 27 1990 Jun 27 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3344 France ​​​​​​​(Anglo-French relations)(Part 5) 1988 Dec 8 1991 Feb 26 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3077 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 24) 1990 Aug 20 1990 Aug 23 2017 Jul 20 Top Secret 370
PREM19/2692 France (Prime Minister's visits to France) (Part 6) 1987 Nov 13 1989 Feb 28 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3169 Social Services ​​​​​​​(Uprating of social security benefits) (Part 5) 1989 Oct 2 1990 May 18 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3385 Home Affairs ​​​​​​​(Women's National Commission: policy towards women)(Part 2) 1988 Feb 17 1991 Nov 28 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2824 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Luxembourg, April 1989: administrative arrangements) 1988 Mar 8 1989 Apr 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3229 Cabinet ​​​​​​​(Forward look for Cabinet and Cabinet committee business)(Part 3) 1986 Jan 17 1991 Jan 23 2017 Jul 20