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 Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pagessort descending
PREM19/3170 Social Services (Uprating of social security benefits) (Part 6) 1990 Jun 8 1990 Oct 30 2017 Jul 20 Secret 253
PREM19/2131 Education (Future of the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA): opting out of ILEA by London boroughs; contingency plans for abolition) (Part 5) 1987 Aug 20 1988 Jun 23 2015 Dec 30 Confidential 253
PREM19/1634 Security (Security Commission: review of security procedures; appointments; cases referred; 'Three Advisers' on appeals against positive vetting clearance refusals - terms of reference and procedures) 1981 Apr 1 1985 Sep 5 2014 Dec 30 Secret 253
PREM19/1782 Home Affairs (Capital punishment: sentencing policy) (Part 1) 1979 Jul 11 1986 Mar 5 2014 Dec 30 Confidential 253
PREM19/3793 Home Affairs (Race relations: grants under section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966; Government action on racial discrimination) (Part 2) 1989 Jun 5 1992 Dec 11 2017 Dec 29 Confidential 253
PREM19/807 Industrial policy (UK newsprint production: closure of Bowater's mill at Ellesmere Port) 1980 Jul 28 1982 Dec 1 2012 Dec 28 Secret 254
PREM19/2573 Yugoslavia (Internal situation: relations with UK) (Part 1) 1980 Jan 17 1988 May 31 2016 Dec 30 Secret 254
PREM19/1211 Economic policy (G7 Summit - London) (Part 17) 1984 Jun 8 1984 Nov 23 2014 Jan 3 Secret 254
PREM19/2117 Education (General policy on education and education expenditure: future of polytechnics; funding regime for schools) (Part 10) 1986 Nov 3 1986 Dec 23 2016 Jul 21 Secret and Personal 254
PREM19/2444 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain, September 1988: administrative arrangements) 1987 Dec 6 1988 Nov 14 2016 Nov 7 13 Secret 254
PREM19/3512 Regional Policy (Inner cities policy and problems: Action for Cities; regeneration of London Docklands) (Part 17) 1989 Aug 1 1991 Apr 12 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 254
PREM19/833 Local government (Relations with central government, organisation & finance) (Parts 10 and 11) 1982 Apr 16 1982 Jun 10 2012 Dec 28 Confidential 254
PREM19/3614 Barbados (Internal situation: UK/Barbados relations) 1981 Jun 24 1992 Mar 2 2017 Dec 29 Secret 254
PREM19/108 Rhodesia (Situation in) (Part 3) 1979 Jul 4 1979 Jul 30 2009 Dec 30 1 Secret 254
PREM19/691 Defence (Replacement of Royal Air Force (RAF) communications aircraft; aircraft for Queen's Flight) (Part 1) 1979 Nov 16 1982 Nov 24 2013 Nov 20 10 Secret 254

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