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
PREM19/3395 Industrial Policy (Prime Minister's meetings with Confederation of British Industry (CBI): correspondence on the Government's economic strategy) (Part 5) 1985 Jun 1 1991 Jul 24 2017 Jul 20 Secret 239
PREM19/1539 Industrial policy (Prime Minister's meetings with Confederation of British Industry (CBI)) (Part 4) 1983 Nov 8 1985 Mar 18 2014 Dec 30 Confidential 290
PREM19/1062 Industrial policy (Prime Minister's meetings with Confederation of British Industry (CBI)) (Part 3) 1981 Aug 4 1983 Oct 20 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 146
PREM19/2244 Industrial Policy (Possible sale by the Laird Group of Metro-Cammell) 1985 Sep 26 1986 Apr 18 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 9
PREM19/1280 Industrial policy (Ports: review of policy, industrial action; uture of Port of London Authority (PLA)) (Part 2) 1982 May 11 1984 Dec 10 2014 Jan 3 Secret 328
PREM19/3806 Industrial Policy (Ports: national dock strike in 1989; privatisation of Trust Ports) (Part 6) 1989 Jun 1 1992 Mar 10 2017 Dec 29 Secret 310
PREM19/2246 Industrial Policy (Ports: National Dock Labour Scheme; Ports of London and Liverpool; Ports Bill) (Part 3) 1985 Feb 18 1987 Jun 30 2016 Jul 21 Secret 269
PREM19/2739 Industrial Policy (Ports: abolition of the National Dock Labour Scheme; industrial action in the ports) (Part 14) 1987 Jul 3 1989 Feb 28 2017 Jul 20 Secret 295
PREM19/1065 Industrial policy (Port of London Authority (PLA); five year plan; finances; closures; possible industrial action) 1979 Jun 7 1983 May 13 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 76
PREM19/1276 Industrial policy (National Enterprise Board (NEB); Industry Bill; relations between the NEB and the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC); British Technology Group future role; government research and development capability) (Part 2) 1980 Jul 1 1984 Feb 24 2014 Jan 3 Confidential 236
PREM19/1805 Industrial policy (Moratorium on applications for support and innovation: research and development) (Part 2) 1986 Feb 18 1986 Sep 30 2014 Dec 30 Confidential 268
PREM19/1804 Industrial policy (Moratorium on applications for support and innovation: research and development) (Part 1) 1984 Nov 8 1986 Jan 20 2014 Dec 30 Confidential 238
PREM19/3809 Industrial Policy (Microelectronics industry: Inmos Ltd (INMOS)) (Part 3) 1984 Apr 20 1992 Dec 7 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/1277 Industrial policy (Micro-electronics industry; support for Inmos Ltd (INMOS)) (Part 2) 1980 May 1 1984 Mar 28 2014 Jan 3 Confidential 279
PREM19/1066 Industrial policy (Merger of Alcan Aluminium (UK) and British Aluminium; coal supplies) 1982 Jul 28 1983 Nov 30 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 106

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