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 namesort descending Title Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3940 Security (Policy on interception of communications)(Part 7) Begins: 1988 Feb 29 Ends: 1992 Aug 20 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
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) Begins: 1979 Nov 28 Ends: 1992 Feb 4 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 186
PREM19/3944 Security (The Bloch Affair) Begins: 1989 Jul 25 Ends: 1992 Sep 2 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3947 Security (Review of the use of vetting) Begins: 1979 Nov 21 Ends: 1992 Sep 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3948 Security (The Hijacking Declaration of the Bonn Summit, July 1978: prevention of international terrorist activity)(Part 4) Begins: 1989 Feb 1 Ends: 1992 Jul 6 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3949 Social Services (Portable pensions for mobility of labour: retirement provisions) Begins: 1988 Dec 1 Ends: 1992 Jun 24 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3953 Sport (Hampden Park football ground, Glasgow, Scotland: redevelopment grant) Begins: 1980 Jun 9 Ends: 1992 Feb 18 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 20
PREM19/3955 Sport (Withdrawal of the Soviet Union from the Los Angeles Olympic Games, 1984: Yugoslavia and the 1992 Barcelona Olympics) Begins: 1984 May 8 Ends: 1992 Jul 22 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 21
PREM19/3956 Trade and Industry (Commodity policy: International Tin Council settlement with creditors) (Part 5) Begins: 1989 Feb 1 Ends: 1992 Jul 6 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 161
PREM19/3960 Trade (Merchant shipping: shipping cabotage; fiscal issues; defence needs) Begins: 1988 Jan 21 Ends: 1992 Jul 9 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 174
PREM19/3963 Transport (Proposal by Greater London Council (GLC) to extend Jubilee line to Docklands) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1992 Apr 30 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3964 Transport (London Regional Transport: East-West Crossrail) (Part 4) Begins: 1990 May 8 Ends: 1992 Aug 27 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 311
PREM19/3968 Treasury (Secret Vote cash limits: Intelligence Agencies estimates) Begins: 1990 Oct 10 Ends: 1992 Dec 1 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3969 Turkey (Visits to the UK by Turkish Prime Ministers, Turgut Ozal and Suleyman Demirel) Begins: 1985 Oct 29 Ends: 1992 Nov 26 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 132
PREM19/3970 United Nations (International Year of the Child 1979: World Summit for Children, September 1990) Begins: 1979 May 25 Ends: 1992 Feb 14 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 185

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