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 namesort ascending Title Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/4828 Mexico (Anglo-Mexican relations: internal situation in Mexico) (Part 2) 1986 Aug 25 1994 Dec 5 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4819 Malawi (UK/Malawi relations: internal situation) (Part 1) 1983 May 20 1994 May 23 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4818 Luxembourg (UK/Luxembourg relations: internal situation) (Part 1) 1979 Jul 1 1994 Oct 6 2019 Feb 6
PREM19/4807 Lesotho (UK/ Lesotho relations: internal situation; aid to Lesotho) 1980 Mar 1 1994 Jun 17 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4803 Labour Party (The Labour Party's strategy and policy: record of taxation; defence policy) 1983 Nov 21 1994 Oct 6 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4801 North Korea (UK/North Korea relations: internal situation) (Part 1) 1981 Aug 27 1994 Sep 5 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4799 Kiribati (UK/Kiribati relations: internal situation; visits by Ieremia Tabai and Teatao Teannaki) 1985 Nov 20 1994 May 10 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4758 Indonesia (UK/Indonesia relations: internal situation) (Part 1) 1979 May 1 1994 Dec 31 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4755 Iceland (UK/Iceland relations: internal situations) (Part 1) 1980 Feb 21 1994 Feb 17 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4737 Home Affairs (Juvenile offenders) (Part 1) 1980 Jun 2 1994 Jan 31 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4734 Home Afffairs (Homosexual rights in Great Britain and Europe) (Part 1) 1984 May 21 1994 Dec 15 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4732 Home Affairs (Behaviour of British football fans abroad: football hooliganism; Football Spectators Bill; Taylor Report on the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster) (Part 9) 1990 Feb 1 1994 Jun 23 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4731 Home Affairs (The Fire Service: fire safety legislation report) (Part 1) 1988 May 10 1994 Dec 22 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4722 Home Affairs (Data protection: computer hacking) (Part 3) 1989 Jul 3 1994 Dec 20 2019 Feb 6
PREM19/4711 Home Affairs (30-year rule retentions) 1979 Nov 26 1994 Feb 24 2018 Dec 28