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
PREM19/3435 Malta ​​​​​​​(UK/Maltese relations: clearance of wartime bombs and wrecks from Maltese waters)(Part 1) 1980 Nov 10 1991 Jul 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3434 Malaysia ​​​​​​​(UK/Malaysia relations: internal situation)(Part 4) 1989 Nov 6 1991 Nov 29 Temporarily Retained by Department
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
PREM19/3433 Malawi ​​​​​​​(Visits to UK by Life President Banda)(Part 1) 1979 Jul 19 1991 Jun 17 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3432 Luxembourg ​​​​​​​(Visits of Prime Ministers of Luxembourg, Pierre Werner and Jacques Santer) 1980 Nov 14 1991 Jun 25 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2768 Local Government​​​​​​​ (Water industry: structural change; privatisation of the water authorities) (Part 6) 1988 Dec 6 1989 Aug 24 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2762 Local Government​​​​​​​ (Relations between central and local government: local authority expenditure) (Part 36) 1988 Aug 2 1989 May 26 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2766 Local Government​​​​​​​ (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 15) 1989 Oct 2 1989 Dec 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3431 Local Government ​​​​​​​(Waste regulation: the role and functions of waste disposal authorities) 1989 Jan 9 1991 Jan 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3422 Local Government ​​​​​​​(The future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge)(Part 21) 1990 Nov 1 1991 Dec 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3429 Local Government ​​​​​​​(Relations between central and local government: local authority expenditure; Local Government Review; structure of local government)(Part 38) 1990 Mar 1 1991 Apr 24 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3846 Local Government (Water industry: structural change; privatisation of the water authorities; consultation paper 'Using Water Wisely') (Part 7) 1989 Sep 4 1992 Nov 23 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/2312 Local Government (Water industry: structural change; privatisation of the water authorities) (Part 5) 1987 Jul 2 1988 Nov 25 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 380
PREM19/2311 Local Government (Water industry: structural change; privatisation of the water authorities) (Part 4) 1979 Jan 1 1988 Jan 1 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 264
PREM19/1838 Local Government (Water industry: structural change) (Part 3) 1985 Dec 2 1986 Apr 21 2014 Dec 30 Confidential 265

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