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
PREM19/3071 Manpower (Special employment measures: training policy; pilot schemes of training credits for young people) (Part 24) 1990 Mar 1 1990 Oct 31 2016 Dec 30 Confidential 264
PREM19/2317 Manpower (Special employment measures: the Employment Service) (Part 17) 1987 Sep 1 1987 Nov 30 2016 Jul 21 1
PREM19/2319 Manpower (Special employment measures: reducing unemployment below two million; future of the Training Commission) (Part 19) 1988 Mar 1 1988 Oct 31 2016 Jul 21 1 Secret 343
PREM19/3070 Manpower (Special employment measures: Prime Minister's seminar on training, 2 February 1990; future of the Skills Training Agency) (Part 23) 1990 Jan 23 1990 Feb 28 2016 Dec 30 Confidential 329
PREM19/3437 Manpower (Special employment measures: measures to tackle rising unemployment; Employment Training and special needs; youth training) (Part 25) 1990 Nov 1 1991 Sep 30 2017 Jul 20 Secret 321
PREM19/2316 Manpower (Special employment measures: Income Support for 16-18 year olds) (Part 16) 1987 May 5 1987 Aug 28 2016 Jul 21 Secret 162
PREM19/3069 Manpower (Special employment measures: future of the Employment Service; training policy) (Part 22) 1989 Aug 1 1990 Jan 23 2017 Jul 20 1 Secret 369
PREM19/2315 Manpower (Special employment measures: employment and training programmes and organisation) (Part 15) 1986 Nov 4 1987 Apr 28 2016 Jul 21 Secret 352
PREM19/2314 Manpower (Rayner Scrutiny of payment of benefits to unemployed people: joint study by Department of Employment and Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS); taxing of Unemployment Benefit) (Part 2) 1982 Jun 4 1988 Mar 8 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 29
PREM19/3847 Manpower (Labour market statistics: Employment Market Research Unit) 1982 Nov 10 1992 Mar 3 2017 Dec 29 Secret 245
PREM19/3435 Malta (UK/Maltese relations) (Part 1) 1980 Nov 10 1991 Jul 19 2017 Jul 20 7 Confidential 297
PREM19/2313 Malaysia (UK/Malaysia relations: visit of Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, July 1987) (Part 2) 1985 Aug 2 1987 Jul 24 2016 Jul 21 1 Confidential 125
PREM19/3434 Malaysia (UK/Malaysia relations: internal situation) (Part 4) 1989 Nov 6 1991 Nov 29 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3433 Malawi (Visits to UK by Life President Banda) (Part 1) 1979 Jul 19 1991 Jun 17 2017 Jul 20 4 Confidential 200
PREM19/3432 Luxembourg (Visits of Prime Ministers of Luxembourg, Pierre Werner and Jacques Santer) 1980 Nov 14 1991 Jun 25 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 225

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