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 name Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classificationsort descending Pages Link to selections
PREM19/3934 Security (Appointment of successors to the Director General of the Secret Intelligence Service and Director General of the Security Service: Prime Minister's visit to the Security Service; Security Service accommodation)(Part 2) 1990 Jul 1 1992 Jul 17 Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3294 Education ​​​​​​​(General policy on education)(Part 27) 1990 Nov 13 1991 Mar 28 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3522 Science and Technology ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's meetings with scientists, February 1982 and January 1991)​​​​​​​ 1982 Feb 1 1991 Feb 12 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/4066 Disasters (Damage caused by storms and severe weather conditions: storm damage after the hurricane on 16 October 1987; damage after the storms of January and February 1990) (Part 1) 1987 Oct 16 1993 Jul 5 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2699 Government Buildings (Opening of the Cabinet War Rooms to the public, April 1984) 1981 May 29 1989 Mar 21 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2041 Civil Service (Long-term management and manpower policy; financial management; equal opportunities in employment; performance pay) (Part 21) 1987 Apr 1 1988 Dec 30 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/1346 Posts and telecommunications (Telephone rental and standing charges) 1982 Mar 12 1983 May 12 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/3187 St Lucia (UK/St Lucia relations: internal situation) (Part 1) 1979 Jun 29 1990 Oct 29 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2365 NATO (NATO Summits) (Part 2) 1987 Jul 30 1988 Nov 14 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/3736 European Policy (European Council meeting in Edinburgh, 11-12 December 1992) (Part 41) 1990 May 21 1992 Apr 28 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3115 Prime Minister ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's meeting with Fred Naylor, Honorary Secretary of Parental Alliance for Choice in Education (PACE), 18 June 1990) 1990 Mar 23 1991 Jul 10 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3439 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 34) 1990 Nov 18 1990 Dec 6 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3356 Germany ​​​​​​​(Rudolf Hess​​​​​​​) 1980 Feb 28 1991 Jun 11 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2064 Defence (Future UK defence policy; merchant shipping and defence needs; Defence White Paper) (Part 3) 1987 Nov 10 1988 Nov 29 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2897 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): NHS Review; draft White Paper) (Part 18) 1989 Jan 3 1989 Jan 22 2016 Dec 30

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