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 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.

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 ascending Pages Link to selections
PREM19/2307 Local Government (Future of the rating system; rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 8) 1987 Aug 3 1987 Nov 12 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/1879 Parliament (House of Commons procedure: replies to Select Committee reports; conflict of interests in the House of Commons) (Part 7) 1985 Jun 3 1986 Jun 16 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2763 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 12) 1989 Jan 6 1989 May 31 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2142 Environmental Affairs (Environmental policy; establishment of HM Inspectorate of Pollution; acid rain - European Community directive on large combustion plants; air pollution; Government response to Select Committee on the Environment report on river and estuary pollution) (Part 5) 1986 Aug 1 1988 Jul 27 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2786 Nationalised Industries (Nationalised industries pay) 1980 Sep 4 1989 May 16 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2415 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Lord Wilson, 8 July 1986: proposed China Trade and Cultural Centre in London Docklands) 1986 Jun 5 1987 Jul 13 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1390 Social services (Genetic Manipulation Advisory Group (GMAG)) 1980 Dec 31 1984 Jan 11 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/1739 Energy (Prime Minister's meeting with Douglas Hogg MP about disposal of nuclear waste) 1986 Mar 4 1986 Apr 7 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/1892 Prime Minister (Visit to Capenhurst, Springfields, Heysham and Sellafield, November 1985) 1984 Oct 29 1986 Jan 30 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/1608 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Sir Douglas Hague on the future of Research Councils) 1984 Dec 20 1985 Feb 6 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/2129 Education (Teachers' pay) (Part 10) 1987 Apr 2 1987 Sep 9 2016 Jul 21 5
PREM19/2971 Environmental Affairs (World Commission on Environment and Development: Bergen Conference 'Action for a Common Future', May 1990) 1988 Jul 5 1990 Feb 14 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2256 Industrial Policy (Future of the Rover Group) (Part 14) 1987 Oct 1 1988 Feb 29 2016 Jul 21 3
PREM19/2054 Defence (Arms control) (Part 11) 1987 Mar 11 1987 Apr 30 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2592 Broadcasting (Legislation on broadcasting; Channel 4; community radio) (Part 3) 1988 May 3 1989 Dec 21 2016 Dec 30

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