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 ascending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages Link to selections
PREM19/2797 Philippines (Proposed state visit by President Marcos: possible visit of President Aquino) 1983 Feb 7 1989 Dec 13 2017 Jul 20
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
PREM19/3109 Parliament ​​​​​​​(Meetings of the North Atlantic Assembly) (Part 1) 1980 Jul 24 1990 Jul 26 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3108 Parliament ​​​​​​​(Legislative programme) (Part 19) 1989 Oct 2 1990 Mar 30 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3473 Parliament ​​​​​​​(House of Commons procedure: Select Committees)(Part 11) 1990 Jun 5 1991 Jul 15 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3107 Parliament ​​​​​​​(House of Commons procedure: Select Committees) (Part 10) 1989 Apr 7 1990 May 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3472 Parliament ​​​​​​​(Availability of Hansard: arrangements for the publication of Written Answers) 1980 Mar 3 1991 Oct 25 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3106 Parliament ​​​​​​​(Appointment of Parliamentary Private Secretaries) (Part 3) 1986 Jun 10 1990 Dec 31 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3880 Parliament (Review of electoral law and procedures: Representation of the People Bills) 1981 Nov 11 1992 Mar 12 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/2382 Parliament (Queen's Speeches on prorogation and opening of Parliament: televising the State Opening) (Part 7) 1986 Jul 21 1987 Jun 29 2016 Jul 21 5 Confidential 282
PREM19/3879 Parliament (Queen's Speeches on prorogation and opening of Parliament: televising the proceedings of the House of Commons) (Part 10) 1980 Aug 1 1992 Mar 25 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2381 Parliament (Procedure for the Eve of Parliament Dinner) 1979 May 9 1987 Jun 23 2016 Jul 21 Unclassified 55
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
PREM19/2380 Parliament (Parliamentary Secretary's minutes on forthcoming Parliamentary affairs) (Part 2) 1985 Jul 3 1987 Oct 28 2016 Jul 21 Secret 191
PREM19/2795 Parliament (Mr Speaker's official entertainment) 1989 Mar 1 1989 Mar 6 2016 Dec 30 Unclassified 10

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