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? File classificationsort descending Pages
PREM19/2096 Economic Policy (Public sector pensions; Scott Report on the Value of Pensions) (Part 4) 1982 Jun 4 1988 Jun 29 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2947 Economic Policy (Taxation of individuals, including tax reform) (Part 4) 1987 Jul 6 1990 Mar 19 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3944 Security (The Bloch Affair) 1989 Jul 25 1992 Sep 2 Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/4455 Spain (Visit by Spanish leader of the Opposition, Felipe Gonzalez and his successor, Jose Maria Aznar) (Part 1) 1981 Feb 2 1993 May 18 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3529 Security ​​​​​​​(Product of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)) 1984 Jun 22 1991 Mar 13 Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/1814 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 20) 1985 Apr 1 1986 Jun 27 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/2690 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to Australia, Bahrain, Oman, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Dubai, August 1988: policy. Note: With photograph) 1988 Aug 1 1989 May 17 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3075 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 22) 1990 Aug 7 1990 Aug 12 Retained under Sec 3.4 (reconsideration in 2027)
PREM19/4330 NATO (Prime Minister's meetings with the Supreme Allied Commander Europe) (SACEUR) 1979 May 23 1993 Oct 27 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4600 Cyprus (United Nations forces in Cyprus) (Part 1) 1979 Jun 1 1994 Jun 8 2019 Feb 6
PREM19/2884 Transport (London Regional Transport: Central London Rail Study) (Part 2) 1986 Dec 11 1989 Mar 20 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2635 Economic Policy (Investigation powers under the Companies and Financial Services Acts: disclosure of interests in shares; Tokyo Stock Exchange) (Part 5) 1987 Jun 15 1989 Jan 25 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/4386 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with ex members of the Cabinet) (Part 1) 1988 Jun 7 1993 Sep 21 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/1921 Regional Policy (Inner city policy: regeneration of Liverpool and London; Docklands Urban Development Corporation; Docklands Light Railway and Canary Wharf; South Cardiff urban renewal) (Part 8) 1986 Feb 4 1986 Nov 29 2015 Dec 30
PREM19/4217 Home Affairs (Policy towards the Prison Service: industrial action by the Prison Officers Association; private sector involvement in the remand system) (Part 6) 1990 Apr 2 1993 Mar 30 2018 Jul 24

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