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 release Any docs withheld? File classification Pagessort descending Link to selections
PREM19/1362 Prime Minister tours abroad (G7 Summit - London; 40th anniversary of D-Day: administrative arrangements) (Part 2) 1984 Jun 1 1984 Oct 2 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/3317 European Policy ​​​​​​​(European Council meeting, Maastricht, December 1991)(Part 39) 1990 Jan 18 1991 Nov 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3936 Security (Intelligence Agencies (MI5 and MI6): meetings, visits, appointments)(Part 2) 1989 Feb 14 1992 Dec 21 Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/2969 Environmental Affairs (Environmental policy: environmental pollution: climate change; Environment White Paper) (Part 17) 1990 Jul 2 1990 Aug 30 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1623 Security (Security of Buckingham Palace grounds: incident on 9 July 1982; review of law of trespass) 1981 Aug 20 1985 May 9 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/3456 Middle East ​​​​​​​(Conclusions of the Ad Hoc Group on the Gulf (AHGG)) 1990 Nov 5 1991 Feb 14 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2787 NATO (NATO's 30th, 35th and 40th anniversaries) 1979 May 10 1989 Mar 23 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1956 Sierra Leone (Visits to UK by President Stevens, November 1980, and President Momoh, March 1986: meetings with Prime Minister) 1979 Aug 9 1986 Mar 5 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2815 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Kuala Lumpur for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), October 1989: administrative arrangements) 1988 Feb 19 1989 Nov 27 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3582 Turkey ​​​​​​​(UK/Turkish relations)​​​​​​​ (Part 2) 1987 Oct 9 1991 Nov 14 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/1973 Soviet Union (Human rights and the position of dissidents in the Soviet Union: policy towards the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)) (Part 1) 1980 May 14 1985 May 3 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2647 Education (The Open College) 1987 Aug 21 1989 Mar 6 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3127 Prime Minister ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's meeting with Dr Hans Blix, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), 19 June 1990) 1990 Mar 12 1990 Jul 11 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3706 Energy (Future offshore petroleum licensing: 9th to 14th licensing rounds; oil taxation) (Part 2) 1984 Jan 11 1992 Feb 28 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/355 Royal Family (Duke of Windsor’s papers: allegations by Duc de Grantmesnil that they were stolen by secret agents) 1979 May 10 1980 Jun 18 Retained Unknown

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