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 Title Begins Endssort descending Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/2185 Germany (Prime Minister's meetings with Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Germany: Prime Minister's visit with Kohl to British Forces Germany; part 6. Note:Â With map) (Part 6) 1986 Aug 21 1987 Sep 12 2016 Jul 21 Secret 210
PREM19/4828 Mexico (Anglo-Mexican relations: internal situation in Mexico) (Part 2) 1986 Aug 25 1994 Dec 5 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2586 Arts and Amenities (Prime Minister's meeting with Lord Sieff to discuss the possible acquisition of the Royal Dental Hospital site by the National Portrait Gallery: future of the National Portrait Gallery) 1986 Aug 26 1989 Apr 13 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3889 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with Baroness Faithfull) 1986 Aug 29 1992 Feb 14 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2289 Jordan (Visits to UK by King Hussein: records of meetings with Prime Minister) (Part 4) 1986 Sep 1 1988 Dec 6 Retained Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1735 Elections (Election procedure) 1986 Sep 2 1986 Oct 21 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/2304 Local Government (Future of the rating system; rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 5) 1986 Sep 2 1987 Jan 30 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2046 Commonwealth (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Vancouver, October 1987) (Part 11) 1986 Sep 4 1987 Oct 8 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2179 Foreign Policy (Summary notes on Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) Assessments) (Part 2) 1986 Sep 5 1987 Dec 18 Retained Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2801 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM)) 1986 Sep 5 1990 Jan 9 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3544 South Korea (UK/South Korea relations: internal situation) (Part 2) 1986 Sep 11 1991 Jun 17 2017 Dec 29 3 Confidential 255
PREM19/3866 Netherlands (Visits to the UK by Ruud Lubbers, Dutch Prime Minister) (Part 2) 1986 Sep 11 1992 Dec 23 2017 Dec 29 1 Secret 253
PREM19/3827 Israel (Visits to the UK by Israeli Foreign Ministers) 1986 Sep 15 1992 Sep 8 2017 Dec 29 8 Secret 179
PREM19/2089 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Venice, June 1987) (Part 22) 1986 Sep 18 1987 May 29 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/3212 Broadcasting (Conservative Central Office media monitoring: BBC coverage of the American bombing raid on Libya, 15 April 1986) (Part 3 annex) 1986 Sep 20 1986 Oct 30 2016 Dec 30 Unclassified 72

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