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 ascending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages Link to selections
PREM19/3982 USA (Visits to the UK by George H W Bush and Dan Quayle, Vice Presidents of the USA) (Part 2) 1987 Aug 11 1992 Feb 14 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3587 USA ​​​​​​​(Calls on the Prime Minister by David Rockefeller)​​​​​​​ 1979 Jun 11 1991 Nov 18 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3810 Industrial Policy Short Brothers plc: sale to Bombardier; launch aid application for Learjet 45 project (Part 3) 1989 Apr 18 1992 Dec 4 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3881 PERU. Internal situation: UK/Peru relations; visits of the Peruvian Speaker (Luis Percovich), Mario Vargas Llosa and President Fujimori 1980 Jul 2 1992 May 18 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3980 USA (Visits to the UK by US Secretaries of Defense, Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney)(Part 2) 1986 Nov 17 1992 Sep 21 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3880 Parliament Review of electoral law and procedures: Representation of the People Bills 1981 Nov 11 1992 Mar 12 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3970 United Nations (International Year of the Child 1979: World Summit for Children, September 1990) 1979 May 25 1992 Feb 14 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3585 USA ​​​​​​​(UK/USA relations)​​​​​​​ (Part 8) 1990 Sep 3 1991 Oct 30 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3808 Industrial Policy Prime Minister's meetings with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) on policy for inner cities (September 1981) and with the Scottish TUC (September 1982): consultations with trade unions​​​​​​​ (Part 3) 1981 Aug 24 1992 Apr 16 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3878 Parliament Pay and pensions of the Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Speaker (Part 1) 1979 Jun 29 1992 Apr 3 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3969 Turkey (Visits to the UK by Turkish Prime Ministers, Turgut Ozal and Suleyman Demirel) 1985 Oct 29 1992 Nov 26 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3806 Industrial Policy Ports: national dock strike in 1989; privatisation of Trust Ports​​​​​​​ (Part 6) 1989 Jun 1 1992 Mar 10 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3803 India Visits of Indian Ministers of Finance: Pranab Mukherjee's meeting with the Prime Minister, September 1982​​​​​​​ (Part 1) 1982 Aug 19 1992 Sep 1 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3877 Parliament Forthcoming Parliamentary affairs (Part 4) 1980 Sep 1 1992 May 25 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3964 Transport (London Regional Transport: East-West Crossrail)(Part 4) 1990 May 8 1992 Aug 27 2017 Dec 29