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 Pages
PREM19/3489 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Dr Cornelio Sommaruga, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, 7 February 1991) 1990 Aug 11 1991 Feb 7 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 26
PREM19/3490 Prime Minister ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's meeting with Hal Miller MP to discuss the Health Service in the West Midlands (18 February 1988) and subsequent meetings (April and June 1991) about the motor industry) 1987 Dec 3 1991 Jun 4 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 69
PREM19/3492 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with Robert Maxwell: death of Robert Maxwell) 1987 Nov 18 1991 Dec 12 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 31
PREM19/3494 Prime Minister (Policy Unit briefing for PM: general topics) (Part 2) 1987 Apr 1 1991 Jan 29 2017 Jul 20 Secret 269
PREM19/3495 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's weekly meetings with Cabinet colleagues and Parliamentary business managers) 1982 Jun 30 1991 Oct 17 2017 Jul 20 Secret 123
PREM19/3496 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's occasional bilateral meetings with various Cabinet colleagues) (Part 1) 1985 Dec 17 1991 Apr 5 2017 Jul 20 4 Secret 283
PREM19/3497 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's requirements for the submission and format of briefs for overseas affairs, speeches, MPs' correspondence, Parliamentary Questions and other important occasions: clearance procedure for statements and announcements) 1979 Jun 4 1991 Oct 2 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 120
PREM19/3507 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Washington, December 1990; administrative arrangements) 1990 Nov 27 1990 Dec 29 2017 Jul 20 4 Confidential 73
PREM19/3508 Poland (UK/Polish relations: internal situation; economic assistance) (Part 12) 1990 Jan 2 1991 May 13 2017 Dec 29 2 Secret 274
PREM19/3509 Post and Telecommunications (Future of the Post Office: Telecommunications Duopoly Review) (Part 13) 1990 Jul 6 1991 Feb 28 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 214
PREM19/3510 Qatar (Visits to Britain by the Amir Shaikh Khalifa and the heir apparent Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani) (Part 1) 1979 Sep 6 1989 Dec 27 2030 Jan 1
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
PREM19/3514 Regional Policy (Review of regional policy: Enterprise Zones; Lanarkshire) (Part 8) 1987 Jan 6 1991 Apr 29 2017 Jul 20 Secret 347
PREM19/3515 Royal Family ​​​​​​​(Career of Prince Michael of Kent) 1980 Feb 1 1991 Sep 19 2058 Jan 1
PREM19/3516 Royal Family (Civil List) (Part 6) 1990 Jul 2 1991 Dec 12 2032 Jan 1

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