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 releasesort descending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3258 Defence (Servicemen's housing) (Part 1) 1989 Feb 28 1991 Nov 27 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 301
PREM19/3489 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Dr Cornelio Sommaruga, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, 7 February 1991) 1990 Aug 11 1991 Feb 7 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 26
PREM19/3087 Ministers (Titles of Ministers and order of precedence) 1979 May 8 1990 May 24 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 319
PREM19/2634 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Paris, July 1989) (Part 28) 1989 Jul 10 1989 Jul 28 2017 Jul 20 3 Confidential 333
PREM19/2614 Defence (Military uses of laser technology in space: United States Strategic Defence Initiative) (Part 5) 1987 Oct 2 1989 Jan 16 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3138 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Helsinki, August 1990: administrative arrangements) 1990 Mar 1 1990 Oct 2 2017 Jul 20 8 Confidential 122
PREM19/3378 Home Affairs (Government support for voluntary bodies) (Part 2) 1989 Jul 10 1991 Oct 17 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 265
PREM19/3581 Tunisia (Internal situation: UK/Tunisia relations)​​​​​​​ (Part 1) 1980 Feb 1 1991 Jun 11 2017 Jul 20 1 Confidential 176
PREM19/2791 Nigeria (Visit to UK by President Babangida, May 1989) (Part 2) 1989 Mar 8 1989 Jun 12 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3216 Agriculture (Agriculture expenditure: report on the review of agricultural training) (Part 3) 1987 Nov 20 1991 Feb 28 2017 Jul 20 1 Secret 318
PREM19/3419 Kuwait (Visits of the Amir of Kuwait: visits of Shaikh Saad, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Kuwait) (Part 1) 1982 Dec 21 1991 Oct 5 2017 Jul 20 8 Secret 201
PREM19/2917 Broadcasting (Television licence fees: Broadcasting Bill) (Part 10) 1989 Nov 1 1990 Feb 28 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 320
PREM19/3257 Defence (Review of home defence: civil and military home defence) (Part 2) [listed out of sequence] 1982 Mar 3 1984 Aug 9 2017 Jul 20 2 Secret 244
PREM19/3482 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Mother Teresa, 13 April 1988) 1988 Apr 1 1991 May 23 2017 Jul 20 Restricted 45
PREM19/3069 Manpower (Special employment measures: future of the Employment Service; training policy) (Part 22) 1989 Aug 1 1990 Jan 23 2017 Jul 20 1 Secret 369

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