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 Titlesort ascending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3856 National Health (Doctors' and dentists' pay: NHS consultants' contracts) (Part 4) 1986 Nov 3 1992 May 29 2017 Dec 29 Secret 413
PREM19/2775 National Health (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)) (Part 2) 1987 Jan 14 1989 Dec 15 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3092 National Health ( Industrial action in the National Health Service (NHS): NHS workers pay (except nurses)) (Part 3) 1984 Mar 9 1990 Jan 29 2017 Jul 20 Secret 420
PREM19/3091 Mozambique (Internal situation: aid programme; relations with the UK) 1979 Aug 2 1990 Mar 23 2017 Jul 20 8 Top Secret - Cab One 360
PREM19/2330 Morocco (Visits to UK by Moroccan Foreign Minister M'hamed Boucetta and his successor Dr Filali) 1981 Aug 20 1988 Sep 16 2016 Jul 21 2 Confidential 41
PREM19/4301 Ministers (Travel by Ministers and their families) (Part 3) 1986 Oct 1 1993 Jul 30 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3087 Ministers (Titles of Ministers and order of precedence) 1979 May 8 1990 May 24 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 319
PREM19/2774 Ministers (Rules governing travel by Ministers) (Part 2) 1982 Apr 6 1989 Sep 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/94 Ministers (Propriety of appointing Minister likely to become MEP) 1979 May 8 1979 May 16 2009 Dec 30 Unclassified 12
PREM19/3089 Ministers (Prime Minister's meetings with Junior Ministers) 1979 Jun 6 1990 Sep 12 2016 Dec 30 1 Confidential 266
PREM19/3090 Ministers (Presence of Ministers in the House of Commons) 1990 Apr 11 1990 Apr 18 2017 Jul 20 Unclassified 6
PREM19/4307 Ministers (Policy on passenger searching at airports as it affects Ministers) 1979 Aug 2 1991 Feb 25 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2329 Ministers (Ministers' plans for holidays and official visits overseas during the Parliamentary recess) 1980 May 7 1988 Jun 6 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 44
PREM19/4302 Ministers (Ministers' absences: general policy relating to Ministers' absences) (Part 2) 1982 Oct 18 1993 Jun 23 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3852 Ministers (Departmental responsibilities of the Whips) (Part 1) 1986 Oct 29 1992 Apr 15 2017 Dec 29 Unclassified 10

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