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 Titlesort descending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/2696 Germany (Internal situation in East Germany: question of German reunification) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Oct 1 Ends: 1989 Dec 31 Date of release: 2016-12-30
PREM19/3003 Germany (Internal situation in the Federal Republic of Germany) (Part 3) Begins: 1986 Jun 13 Ends: 1990 Mar 2 Date of release: 2016-12-30
PREM19/59 Germany (MT visits to, Bonn Oct 1979) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jun 11 Ends: 1979 Dec 7 Date of release: 2009-12-30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 156
PREM19/3004 Germany (Prime Minister's meeting with Lothar de Maiziere, Prime Minister of the Germany Democratic Republic, June 1990) Begins: 1990 May 31 Ends: 1990 Jun 27 Date of release: 2016-12-30
PREM19/2697 Germany (Prime Minister's meetings with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the Turkish Prime Minister in Germany) (Part 7) Begins: 1987 Jul 1 Ends: 1989 Feb 24 Date of release: 2016-12-30
PREM19/1765 Germany (Prime Minister's meetings with Chancellor Helmut Kohl) (Part 15) Begins: 1983 Nov 11 Ends: 1986 May 28 Date of release: 2015-12-30 File classification: Secret Pages: 276
PREM19/471 Germany (Prime Minister's meetings with Chancellor Schmidt in Bonn, November 1980 and November 1981: Anglo-German Summits) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Jun 4 Ends: 1981 Nov 18 Date of release: 2011-12-30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 338
PREM19/766 Germany (Prime Minister's meetings with Chancellor Schmidt in Bonn, November 1981) (Part 3) Begins: 1982 Oct 2 Ends: 1982 Nov 19 Date of release: 2012-12-28 File classification: Secret Pages: 68
PREM19/1036 Germany (Prime Minister's visits to Germany: meetings with Chancellor Helmut Kohl) (Part 4) Begins: 1982 Oct 28 Ends: 1983 Oct 26 Date of release: 2013-08-01 File classification: Secret Pages: 226
PREM19/768 Germany (Removal of the limitations on Federal German naval shipbuilding and armaments) Begins: 1980 Jul 11 Ends: 1982 Sep 6 Date of release: 2012-12-28 File classification: Secret Pages: 23
PREM19/767 Germany (Visit of Dr Ernst Albrecht, Minister-President of Lower Saxony: call on the Prime Minister) Begins: 1980 May 14 Ends: 1980 Jul 11 Date of release: 2012-12-28 File classification: Confidential Pages: 24
PREM19/472 Germany (Visit to UK by Chancellor Schmidt, March 1980: Anglo-German Summit) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Aug 13 Ends: 1981 Apr 17 Date of release: 2012-02-22 File classification: Secret Pages: 229
PREM19/1035 Germany (Visit to UK by Helmut Kohl, leader of the opposition, January 1982) Begins: 1981 Aug 19 Ends: 1982 Jan 27 Date of release: 2013-08-01 File classification: Confidential Pages: 82
PREM19/3007 Germany (Visits by Chancellor Helmut Kohl to the UK) (Part 10) Begins: 1986 Nov 20 Ends: 1990 Mar 30 Date of release: 2016-12-30
PREM19/2698 Germany (Visits to the UK by Governing Mayors of Berlin: Dietrich Stobb, Richard von Weizsacker, Eberhard Diepgen and Walter Momper) Begins: 1979 Mar 2 Ends: 1989 May 4 Date of release: 2016-12-30