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 ascending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/1133 Security (Possible steps to overcome the change of culture towards leaks of government documents) 1983 Jun 16 1983 Jun 18 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 5
PREM19/1005 Economic policy (Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976: exemption of Stock Exchange) 1979 May 30 1983 Nov 30 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 190
PREM19/1100 Posts and telecommunications (Future of the Post Office; cable expansion and broadcasting policy; telecommunications liberalisation and privatisation; Telecommunications Bill) (Part 6) 1982 Oct 28 1983 Mar 29 2013 Aug 1 Secret 284
PREM19/976 Defence (Exports of defence equipment to Iran; sanctions; delivery of Iranian ship 'Kharg') 1979 Jun 7 1983 Sep 21 2013 Aug 1 Secret 138
PREM19/1071 Italy (Anglo-Italian Summits) (Part 2) 1982 Feb 26 1983 Aug 23 2013 Aug 1 Secret 183
PREM19/1072 Ivory Coast (Visit to UK by President Houphouet-Boigny, July 1983: meeting with Prime Minister) 1982 Oct 11 1983 Aug 1 2013 Aug 1 1 Confidential 136
PREM19/1040 Government machinery (Ministerial responsibility for scrutiny of future proposed power of entry) 1982 Oct 6 1983 Aug 3 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 48
PREM19/1134 Security (Leak of government documents during the election campaign; investigation) 1983 May 12 1983 Nov 18 2013 Aug 1 Secret 25
PREM19/1006 Economic policy (Consultation with International Monetary Fund (IMF); meetings of IMF and World Bank) (Part 1) 1979 Jun 7 1983 Feb 15 2013 Aug 1 Secret 240
PREM19/1101 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Stanley Thorne MP about job losses at Preston factory of Rockwell Graphic Systems Ltd) 1983 Apr 20 1983 May 13 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 15
PREM19/977 Defence (Defence budget) (Part 9) 1982 Jul 6 1983 Apr 29 2013 Aug 1 Secret 221
PREM19/1073 Japan (Commercial relations with Japan; effects of Japanese imports on the European car industry; possible Nissan investment in UK) (Part 3) 1982 Nov 22 1983 Oct 31 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 295
PREM19/1041 Government machinery (Publicity for open structure appointments) 1983 Oct 4 1983 Oct 20 2013 Aug 1 Unclassified 5
PREM19/1007 Economic policy (G7 Summit - Williamsburg) (Part 11) 1982 Sep 21 1983 Apr 28 2013 Aug 1 Secret 229
PREM19/1102 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Dr Henry Kaufman of Salomon Brothers Inc: economic situation in USA; international economic situation) 1983 Mar 4 1983 Mar 4 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 4

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