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 ascending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages Link to selections
PREM19/3869 Oman (Internal situation: UK/Oman relations) (Part 3) 1989 Feb 1 1992 Oct 27 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/118 Royal family (Security of HMQ during visit to Lusaka CHOGM) 1979 May 9 1979 Jul 27 Temporarily Retained by Department Unknown
PREM19/3809 Industrial Policy (Microelectronics industry: Inmos Ltd (INMOS)) (Part 3) 1984 Apr 20 1992 Dec 7 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3868 Oman (State visit of Sultan Qaboos of Oman, March 1982: other visits by the Sultan) 1989 Feb 1 1992 Oct 27 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3418 Kuwait ​​​​​​​(Internal situation: relations with UK)(Part 1) 1980 Oct 6 1991 Jun 28 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3579 Treasury ​​​​​​​(Barlow Clowes)​​​​​​​ (Part 3) 1989 Nov 16 1991 Dec 19 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3949 Social Services (Portable pensions for mobility of labour: retirement provisions) 1988 Dec 1 1992 Jun 24 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3805 Industrial Policy (Future of Rover Group) (Part 17) 1990 Apr 1 1992 Mar 11 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3948 Security (The Hijacking Declaration of the Bonn Summit, July 1978: prevention of international terrorist activity)(Part 4) 1989 Feb 1 1992 Jul 6 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3609 Angola (Internal situation: UK/Angola relations)​​​​​​​ (Part 3) 1988 Sep 1 1992 Dec 31 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3530 Security ​​​​​​​(Reform of the Official Secrets Act)​​​​​​​ (Part 3) 1988 Nov 1 1991 Nov 21 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3749 European Policy (Prime Minister's meeting with Sir James Scott-Hopkins, leader of European Conservative Group in European Parliament: meetings with the European Democratic Group of MEPs) (Part 3) 1988 Feb 1 1992 Sep 21 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3649 Defence (The Mildenhall Agreement) (Part 1) 1977 Mar 11 1992 Apr 16 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3942 Security (Security of the Secret Service: Professor Anthony Blunt: terms of reference of the Home Affairs Select Committee with regard to the Security Service )(Part 2​​​​​​​) 1979 Nov 28 1992 Feb 4 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3940 Security (Policy on interception of communications)(Part 7) 1988 Feb 29 1992 Aug 20 Temporarily Retained by Department

Pages