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
PREM19/2290 Kenya (Prime Minister's visit to Kenya, January 1988) (Part 1) 1987 Nov 16 1988 Apr 20 2016 Jul 21 2 Secret 282
PREM19/1296 Jordan (Visits to UK by King Hussein; meetings with Prime Minister) (Part 2) 1982 Jul 1 1984 Nov 30 2014 Jan 3 11 Secret - UK Eyes A 330
PREM19/512 Jordan (Visits to UK by King Hussein: meetings with Prime Minister) (Part 1) 1979 Jun 1 1981 Nov 18 2011 Dec 30 1 Secret 301
PREM19/4276 Jordan (Visits to London by King Hussein) (Part 5) 1989 Mar 5 1993 Jan 4 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3415 Jordan (Visits by Crown Prince Hassan) 1983 Jul 1 1991 Mar 1 2017 Jul 20 2 Secret 56
PREM19/3416 Jordan (UK/Jordanian relations) (Part 2) 1986 Mar 16 1990 Nov 30 Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/2288 Jordan (Prime Minister's messages to King Hussein on births of his children) 1980 Apr 1 1986 Feb 12 2016 Jul 21 Restricted 20
PREM19/3837 Jordan (Illness of King Hussein) (Part 1) 1984 Jan 3 1992 Oct 21 2017 Dec 29 2 Top Secret 26
PREM19/2286 Japan (Vredeling Proposal on labour relations in the European Community; trade links between the European Community, USA and Japan) 1983 Dec 2 1988 Mar 11 2016 Dec 30 8 Confidential 241
PREM19/3834 Japan (Visits to the UK by Japanese Ministers) 1981 May 26 1992 May 15 2017 Dec 29 Confidential 103
PREM19/3835 Japan (Visits to the UK by Japanese Ministers for International Trade and Industry) 1979 May 8 1992 Dec 24 2017 Dec 29 Confidential 173
PREM19/1821 Japan (Visits to the UK by Japanese Foreign Ministers, Masoyashi Ito and Shintaro Abe) 1981 Aug 24 1986 Oct 22 2014 Dec 30 Secret 64
PREM19/3059 Japan (Visits of Noboru Takeshita, Prime Minister of Japan (May 1988) and his successor Toshiki Kaifu (January 1990)) (Part 2) 1987 Dec 11 1990 Feb 28 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2283 Japan (Visits of Japanese CBI (Keidanren) to the UK, 1981 and 1986) 1981 Aug 24 1986 Oct 22 2016 Jul 21 Restricted 29
PREM19/2287 Japan (Visit to UK by Yasuhiro Nakasone, Prime Minister of Japan, June 1984) (Part 1) 1984 Feb 16 1987 Oct 23 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 63

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