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.

 

Link to full file File name Begins Ends Date of releasesort descending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages Link to selections
PREM19/3019 Government Machinery ( Rayner Scrutiny Programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste; value for money seminars; Next Steps initiative) (Part 34) 1990 Apr 2 1990 Oct 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3288 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Public expenditure and cash limits)(Part 45) 1990 Sep 4 1991 Mar 23 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3519 Sao Tome and Principe ​​​​​​​(Relations with UK: internal situation)(Part 1) 1985 Oct 1 1991 Mar 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3112 Police ​​​​​​​(Police policy) (Part 3) 1989 Jan 23 1990 Jun 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3352 Germany ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's meetings with Chancellor Kohl in Germany​​​​​​​)(Part 8) 1989 Apr 10 1991 Feb 28 2017 Jul 20
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
PREM19/3195 Transport ​​​​​​​(Severn Bridge: Second Severn Crossing) 1982 Jun 14 1990 Mar 28 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3396 Industrial Policy ​​​​​​​(Research and development, including European Community framework programme for research and development)(Part 8) 1990 Jan 2 1991 Mar 12 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3598 Energy (Energy conservation: home insulation scheme: energy efficiency) (Part 3) 1986 Nov 5 1991 Mar 27 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2861 South Africa (UK/South Africa relations: internal situation) (Part 20) 1989 Sep 4 1989 Oct 30 2017 Jul 20 2 Secret 267
PREM19/3464 National Health ​​​​​​​(Nurses' pay: nurses clinical regrading exercise)(Part 4) 1988 Aug 11 1990 Dec 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3018 Government Machinery (Rayner Scrutiny Programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste; value for money seminars; Next Steps initiative) (Part 33) 1990 Mar 1 1990 Mar 30 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3287 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Policy towards privatisation: disposal of public sector assets; contracting out of public sector functions)(Part 17) 1989 Jan 19 1991 Mar 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3109 Parliament ​​​​​​​(Meetings of the North Atlantic Assembly) (Part 1) 1980 Jul 24 1990 Jul 26 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3351 Germany ​​​​​​​(Anglo-German relations)(Part 6) 1990 Oct 15 1991 Jul 9 2017 Jul 20

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