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 namesort descending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages Link to selections
PREM19/1714 Economic policy (G7 Summit - Tokyo) (Part 20) 1985 Jun 14 1986 May 6 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/1715 Economic policy (G7 Summit - Tokyo) (Part 21) 1985 Apr 30 1986 May 6 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2091 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Toronto) (Part 24) 1987 Jun 26 1988 Jun 11 2016 Jul 21 1 Confidential 286
PREM19/2092 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Toronto) (Part 25) 1988 Jun 13 1988 Jun 17 2016 Jul 21 Secret and Personal 330
PREM19/188 Economic policy (G7 Summit - Venice) (Part 3) 1980 Jan 3 1980 Jun 20 2010 Dec 30 Secret 265
PREM19/189 Economic policy (G7 Summit - Venice) (Part 4) [Part 5 of this file has been destroyed] 1980 Jun 20 1980 Aug 28 2010 Dec 30 Secret 189
PREM19/2089 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Venice, June 1987) (Part 22) 1986 Sep 18 1987 May 29 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2090 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Venice, June 1987) (Part 23) 1987 Jun 1 1988 Feb 17 2016 Dec 30 2 Secret 401
PREM19/2112 Economic Policy (Pay Review Body reports: top salaries, armed forces, doctors and dentists, nurses, midwives and professions allied to medicine) (Part 9) 1986 Oct 27 1988 May 26 2016 Jul 21 Secret and Personal 334
PREM19/2102 Economic Policy (Policy towards privatisation; disposal of public sector assets; contracting out of public sector functions) (Part 16) 1987 Apr 1 1988 Dec 14 2016 Dec 30 Secret 333
PREM19/2580 Economic Policy (Public spending) (Part 40) 1988 Jul 5 1988 Dec 13 2016 Dec 30 Secret 361
PREM19/2626 Economic Policy (Public spending) (Part 42) 1989 May 25 1989 Jul 26 2016 Dec 30 Secret 415
PREM19/1721 Economic policy (The 1986 Budget) (Part 15) 1986 Feb 5 1986 Apr 24 2014 Dec 30 Budget Secret 354
PREM19/1455 Economic policy (The Budget, 1984 and 1985) (Part 13) 1984 Mar 15 1985 Mar 8 2014 Dec 30 Budget Secret 364
PREM19/2110 Economic Policy (Toronto Economic Summit: Prime Minister's Personal Representative for Economic Summits; 'Sherpa' papers) (Part 3) 1988 Jun 1 1988 Jul 29 2016 Dec 30 Confidential 340

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