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 ascending Link to selections
PREM19/3942 Security (Security of the Secret Service: Professor Anthony Blunt: terms of reference of the Home Affairs Select Committee with regard to the Security Service )(Part 2​​​​​​​) 1979 Nov 28 1992 Feb 4 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2964 Environmental Affairs (North Sea Conference) 1984 Oct 31 1990 Jul 4 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2132 Elections (Election procedure) (Part 2) 1987 Jan 5 1987 May 12 2016 Jul 21 2
PREM19/1620 Security (Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ): changes in funding, status and staffing; unionisation) (Part 3) 1984 Mar 2 1985 Apr 26 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/1280 Industrial policy (Ports: review of policy, industrial action; uture of Port of London Authority (PLA)) (Part 2) 1982 May 11 1984 Dec 10 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/3464 National Health ​​​​​​​(Nurses' pay: nurses clinical regrading exercise)(Part 4) 1988 Aug 11 1990 Dec 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2782 National Health (Outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Staffordshire: Stafford Hospital Inquiry) 1988 May 20 1989 Jul 18 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1922 Regional Policy (Review of regional policy: new structure for regional industrial incentives; territorial expenditure; the North/South issue) (Part 7) 1984 Oct 2 1986 Dec 22 2015 Dec 30
PREM19/1535 India (Visits to UK by L K Jha, member of the Brandt Commission and adviser to Indira Gandhi: meetings with Prime Minister) 1983 Jun 4 1985 Mar 21 2015 Jul 16
PREM19/2824 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Luxembourg, April 1989: administrative arrangements) 1988 Mar 8 1989 Apr 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3585 USA ​​​​​​​(UK/USA relations)​​​​​​​ (Part 8) 1990 Sep 3 1991 Oct 30 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/1968 South Africa (Internal situation) (Part 11) 1986 Jul 1 1986 Jul 15 2016 Feb 19 3
PREM19/2644 Education (General policy on education) (Part 21) 1989 Apr 3 1989 Jun 30 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3130 Prime Minister ​​​​​​​(Visits to UK by the Secretary-General of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)) 1982 Oct 21 1990 Feb 27 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3741 European Policy (European Monetary System (EMS): economic and monetary union) (Part 5) 1989 Sep 1 1989 Nov 30 Temporarily Retained by Department

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