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
PREM19/2765 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 14) 1989 Aug 1 1989 Oct 1 2016 Dec 30 Secret 324
PREM19/2764 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 13) 1989 Jun 1 1989 Jul 31 2016 Dec 30 Secret 355
PREM19/2763 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 12) 1989 Jan 6 1989 May 31 2016 Dec 30 Secret 462
PREM19/3422 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 21) 1990 Nov 1 1990 Dec 29 2017 Jul 20 Secret 356
PREM19/2766 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 15) 1989 Oct 2 1989 Dec 29 2017 Jul 20 Secret 352
PREM19/1837 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation) (Part 4) 1986 Jan 3 1986 Aug 23 2014 Dec 30 Confidential 258
PREM19/1565 Local Government (Future of the rating system: alternatives to domestic rates; rate limitation White Paper; rates in Scotland) (Part 3) 1983 Jul 4 1985 Dec 31 2014 Dec 30 Secret 376
PREM19/1082 Local government (Future of rating system; alternatives to domestic rates; rate limitation schemes) (Part 2) 1982 Jul 23 1983 Jun 29 2013 Aug 1 Secret 334
PREM19/2767 Local Government (Correspondence with Councillor Paul Beresford, Leader of Wandsworth Council) 1989 Feb 22 1989 Jul 31 2016 Dec 30 Confidential 55
PREM19/2298 Local Government (Correspondence from Sir John Sainsbury on planning controls: general planning inquiries; land for housing and planning policy) (Part 4) 1987 Jan 7 1988 Jan 21 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 227
PREM19/1834 Local Government (Correspondence from Sir John Sainsbury on planning controls: general planning enquiries) (Part 3) 1986 Jul 23 1986 Dec 23 2014 Dec 30 Confidential 369
PREM19/1833 Local Government (Correspondence from Sir John Sainsbury on planning controls: general planning enquiries) (Part 2) 1985 May 1 1986 May 2 2014 Dec 30 Confidential 290
PREM19/3062 Local Government (Corre from Sir John Sainsbury on planning controls; general planning inquiries; future of development plans; Planning Bill) (Part 7) 1989 Sep 4 1990 Jul 31 2016 Dec 30 Confidential 320
PREM19/4284 Liechenstein (UK/Liechtenstein relations: internal situation) 1984 Oct 1 1993 Dec 22 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/1300 Libya (UK/Libyan relations; threat to Libyan dissidents in UK; shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside Libyan People's Bureau, 17 April 1984; severance of diplomatic relations) (Part 2A) 1984 Apr 17 1984 May 2 2014 Jan 3 4 Top Secret 207

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