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.

 

File name Title Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld?sort descending File classification Pages
PREM19/3756 Falkland Islands (Future administration of the Falkland Islands) 1983 Oct 1 1992 Jul 13 2017 Dec 29 6 Top Secret 275
PREM19/3073 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 20) 1989 Dec 3 1990 Aug 1 2016 Dec 30 6 Secret CAB ONE 177
PREM19/2454 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to NATO Summit, March 1988: administrative arrangements) 1988 Jan 19 1988 Mar 7 2016 Jul 21 6 Secret 35
PREM19/1545 Ireland (Cases of Marian Price, Dolours Rea (nee Price), Pauline McLaughlin, Robert Cardwell and the Gillespie sisters: pleas for release from imprisonment) 1980 Apr 29 1985 Dec 16 2014 Dec 30 6 Secret 96
PREM19/3352 Germany (Prime Minister's meetings with Chancellor Kohl in Germany​​​) (Part 8) 1989 Apr 10 1991 Feb 28 2017 Jul 20 6 Secret 215
PREM19/2056 Defence (Arms control) (Part 13) 1987 Jun 15 1987 Nov 26 2016 Jul 21 6 Secret UK Eyes A 263
PREM19/2775 National Health (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)) (Part 2) 1987 Jan 14 1989 Dec 15 2017 Jul 20 6 Secret 354
PREM19/3058 Italy (Visits of the Italian Prime Minister: visits of the Italian President) (Part 3) 1986 Oct 3 1990 Oct 20 2017 Jul 20 6 Secret 316
PREM19/3798 Hong Kong (Guangdong nuclear power station project at Daya Bay, China: meetings with Lord Kadoorie, Chairman of China Light and Power Company (CLP)) (Part 4) 1986 Jan 3 1992 Sep 8 2017 Dec 29 6 Secret 193
PREM19/2457 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to G7 Summit - Venice, June 1987: administrative arrangements) 1986 Oct 30 1987 Aug 4 2016 Jul 21 6 Secret 85
PREM19/760 France (Anglo-French relations; Prime Minister's meetings with President Giscard d'Estaing and President Mitterrand) (Part 1) 1979 Oct 15 1982 Mar 25 2012 Dec 28 6 Secret 268
PREM19/3776 Government Machinery (Millennium Commission and Millennium Fund) (Part 1) 1985 May 30 1992 Dec 23 2017 Dec 29 7 Confidential 290
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 7 Secret 313
PREM19/3207 USA (Prime Minister's visits to the USA) (Part 9) 1990 Feb 5 1990 Aug 8 2017 Jul 20 7 Secret 115
PREM19/3794 Home Affairs (Review of restrictions on shopping hours and Sunday trading: Shops Bill 1986; review of licensing hours) (Part 2) 1986 Feb 12 1992 Jan 30 2017 Dec 29 7 Confidential 280

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