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
PREM19/2109 Economic Policy (Toronto Economic Summit: Prime Minister's Personal Representative for Economic Summits; briefing for third meeting of Personal Representatives ('Sherpas'), Paris, May 1988) (Part 2) 1988 Mar 1 1988 May 31 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 364
PREM19/3691 Economic Policy Reports of the Pay Review Bodies: review of the Office of Manpower Economics (OME)(Part 11) 1990 Feb 1 1992 Jan 24 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3269 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Briefing for the Prime Minister by Sir Alan Walters​​​​​​​) 1989 May 10 1991 Jan 15 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3273 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Consumer Credit Act 1974: licensing; consumer lending; credit marketing) 1979 Jul 4 1991 Sep 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3274 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Domestic monetary policy)(Part 22) 1990 May 3 1991 May 31 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3275 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Economic Summits: 'Sherpa' papers)(Part 4) 1988 Aug 2 1991 Apr 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3276 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Financial services: report of the Review Committee on Banking Services Law; Stock Exchange; company investigations; Diamond Report, 'A Review of Security Interests in Property' other than land)(Part 6) 1989 Feb 7 1991 Dec 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3594 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Indebtedness of various countries: Treasury reports on international debt)​​​​​​​ (Part 8) 1989 Jul 7 1991 Oct 31 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3278 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(London Economic Summit, July 1991)(Part 31) 1988 Aug 22 1991 Mar 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3285 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Market reports) 1988 Jun 30 1991 Jul 2 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3277 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Paris Economic Summit, July 1989)(Part 27) 1989 Jan 13 1989 Jul 7 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
PREM19/3288 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Public expenditure and cash limits)(Part 45) 1990 Sep 4 1991 Mar 23 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3291 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​(Speeches by the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Bank of England)(Part 3) 1986 Oct 16 1991 Jul 2 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3595 Economic Policy ​​​​​​​Public sector pay policy: Treasury monitoring reports (Part 14) 1987 Sep 22 1991 May 30 2017 Jul 20