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 Titlesort ascending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/4758 Indonesia (UK/Indonesia relations: internal situation) (Part 1) 1979 May 1 1994 Dec 31 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2734 India​​​​​​​ (Visits to the UK by Vice-Presidents of India, Mohammad Hidayatullah (July 1983) and Shankar Dayal Sharma (November 1989)) 1983 Jun 18 1989 Jul 8 2017 Jul 20
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 2 Confidential 22
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 3 Secret 228
PREM19/4240 India (UK/Indian relations) (Part 7) 1989 Sep 4 1993 Apr 13 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/1273 India (UK/Indian relations) (Part 3) 1982 Nov 22 1984 Feb 27 2014 Jan 3 3 Top Secret 288
PREM19/4241 India (Prime Minister's visit to India: Indian nuclear programme) (Part 3) 1982 Aug 1 1993 Feb 28 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/1060 India (Orissa steel plant) 1982 Jan 11 1983 Aug 5 2013 Aug 1 Secret 106
PREM19/4242 India (Foreign policy: internal situation; re-election of Mrs Gandhi; aid to India; Indo-Soviet relations; Indo-Pakistan relations) (Part 2) 1990 Jun 1 1993 Apr 23 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3392 Immigration (Immigration Rules: asylum; immigration figures) (Part 5) 1990 Sep 1 1991 Nov 29 2017 Jul 20 2 Secret 360
PREM19/1800 Immigration (Immigration rules) (Part 2) 1982 Sep 2 1986 Mar 26 2014 Dec 30 1 Confidential 287
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
PREM19/4755 Iceland (UK/Iceland relations: internal situations) (Part 1) 1980 Feb 21 1994 Feb 17 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/1534 Hungary (UK/Hungarian relations: Prime Minister's visit to Hungary, February 1984) (Part 2) 1984 Feb 1 1985 Jan 16 2014 Dec 30 Secret 343

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