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
PREM19/2730 Housing (Housing policy) (Part 15) 1989 Mar 2 1989 Jun 30 2016 Dec 30 Confidential 291
PREM19/2232 Housing (Housing policy) (Part 6) 1985 Jul 2 1987 Jan 28 2016 Jul 21 11 Confidential and Personal 184
PREM19/2233 Housing (Housing policy) (Part 7) 1987 Feb 2 1987 Mar 20 2016 Jul 21 Secret 255
PREM19/2234 Housing (Housing policy) (Part 8) 1987 Apr 3 1987 Jun 30 2016 Jul 21 Confidential CMO 280
PREM19/2240 Housing (Prime Minister's meeting with Professor Alice Coleman to discuss housing design: subsequent action) 1987 Dec 18 1988 Mar 9 2016 Jul 21 Unclassified 24
PREM19/3390 Housing ​​​​​​​(Housing policy)(Part 17) 1990 Jul 1 1991 Jul 31 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/1799 Hungary (UK/Hungarian relations) (Part 3) [possible filing error - originally numbered Part 2, but previous file in the series is Part 2] 1985 Jan 16 1985 Nov 28 2014 Dec 30 Confidential 164
PREM19/1272 Immigration (British Nationality Act 1981; British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Amendment Bill) (Part 2) 1981 Nov 19 1984 Apr 10 2014 Jan 3 Confidential 77
PREM19/1800 Immigration (Immigration rules) (Part 2) 1982 Sep 2 1986 Mar 26 2014 Dec 30 1 Confidential 287
PREM19/3392 Immigration ​​​​​​​(Immigration Rules: asylum; immigration figures)(Part 5) 1990 Sep 1 1991 Nov 29 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/1273 India (UK/Indian relations) (Part 3) 1982 Nov 22 1984 Feb 27 2014 Jan 3 3 Top Secret 288
PREM19/2242 India (Visits to UK by Indian Ministers of Commerce) 1979 Sep 26 1988 Dec 1 2016 Dec 30 1 Confidential covering Secret 43
PREM19/3803 India Visits of Indian Ministers of Finance: Pranab Mukherjee's meeting with the Prime Minister, September 1982​​​​​​​ (Part 1) 1982 Aug 19 1992 Sep 1 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3393 India ​​​​​​​(Visit to the UK by Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, October 1985)(Part 3) 1985 Aug 8 1991 Aug 15 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/1801 Industrial policy (Future of British Leyland) (Part 10) 1985 Sep 3 1986 Mar 7 2014 Dec 30 Secret 294

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