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 namesort descending Title Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/4332 NATO (NATO Ministerial meetings) (Part 2) 1990 Jun 1 1993 Jun 10 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4333 New Zealand (Visits to the UK by New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange and his successor Jim Bolger) (Part 2) 1986 Feb 6 1993 Mar 11 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4334 New Zealand (Internal situation: UK/New Zealand relations; relations with the European Community) (Part 2) 1988 Jul 1 1993 Sep 27 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4335 Pakistan (Internal situation: military aid to Pakistan; death of President Zia) (Part 1) 1979 Oct 17 1993 Jul 15 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4337 Parliament (The Unemployment Debate: recall of Parliament) (Part 1) 1980 Sep 10 1993 Jul 29 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4339 Parliament (Remuneration of Junior Ministers in the House of Lords) (Part 1) 1980 Jul 7 1993 May 21 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4343 Parliament (Request by the Opposition for increase in financial allowances for Opposition Parties) (Part 1) 1980 Jan 25 1993 Oct 28 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4347 Poland (Visits to the UK by General Jaruzelski, Prime Ministers Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Hanna Suchocka, and President Walesa) (Part 1) 1989 Mar 15 1993 Mar 4 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4348 Police (Police pay) (Part 3) 1989 Aug 1 1993 Nov 16 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4349 Police (Police policy) (Part 4) 1990 Jul 2 1993 Jan 20 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4352 Posts and Telecommunication (Pay negotiations in the Post Office and British Telecom (BT): industrial action) (Part 2) 1987 Sep 14 1993 Aug 17 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4353 Portugal (UK/Portugal relations) (Part 2) 1986 Nov 14 1993 Dec 16 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4354 Portugal (Visits to UK by Prime Ministers Francisco Balsemao, December 1981 and Anibal Cavaco Silva, March 1988) (Part 1) 1981 Nov 6 1993 Jan 28 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4361 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with the Board of Deputies of British Jews) 1979 Oct 12 1993 Mar 25 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4362 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's international commitments: policy on foreign visitors) (Part 2. With slides and negatives) 1988 Sep 8 1992 Dec 14 2018 Dec 28

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