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 namesort descending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages Link to selections
PREM19/3596 Education​​​​​​​ (Standards in higher education: Lindop Report on academic validation in public sector higher education; funding of higher education) 1984 Mar 29 1991 Oct 28 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3697 Egypt (Anglo-Egyptian relations: internal situation)​​​​​​​ (Part 2) 1986 Jul 21 1992 Oct 25 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3699 Egypt (Visits to the UK by President Mubarak and the Egyptian Foreign Minister) (Part 2) 1986 Jul 14 1992 Dec 31 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/1734 Egypt (Visits to the UK by Prime Ministers, Dr Mustafa Khalil and Dr Ali Loutfi: meetings with the Prime Minister) 1979 Oct 22 1986 Sep 16 2014 Dec 30 Confidential 55
PREM19/3597 Egypt ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's meetings with the Egyptian Ambassador) 1980 Aug 2 1991 Sep 17 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3302 Elections ​​​​​​​(Election procedure)(Part 4) 1990 Sep 5 1991 Jan 30 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/1740 Energy (Activities and role of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (AEA)) 1984 Mar 2 1986 Mar 11 2014 Dec 30 Secret 229
PREM19/3705 Energy (British Petroleum (BP): redemption of the Government's special share in Britoil)​​​​​​​ (Part 7) 1989 Jan 2 1992 Feb 11 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3598 Energy (Energy conservation: home insulation scheme: energy efficiency) (Part 3) 1986 Nov 5 1991 Mar 27 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3704 Energy (Energy policy: nuclear power; nuclear safety in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)​​​​​​​) (Part 14) 1990 Sep 3 1992 Apr 30 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3706 Energy (Future offshore petroleum licensing: 9th to 14th licensing rounds; oil taxation) (Part 2) 1984 Jan 11 1992 Feb 28 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/1737 Energy (Oil prices: prospects for world oil market; proposed Petroleum Bill; North Sea oil prices; heavy fuel oil prices; oil prices in the longer term) (Part 2) 1983 Oct 7 1986 Jan 31 2014 Dec 31 4 Secret and Personal 336
PREM19/2140 Energy (Release of 30 year old records about the Windscale fire in 1957) 1987 Feb 23 1987 Oct 2 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 9
PREM19/2139 Energy (Staffing of Nuclear Installations Inspectorate) 1980 Mar 5 1987 Dec 9 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 67
PREM19/2659 Environmental Affairs (Benson Building, Islington) (Part 12) 1989 Jul 3 1989 Jul 18 2016 Dec 30 Unclassified 5

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