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
PREM19/1066 Industrial policy (Merger of Alcan Aluminium (UK) and British Aluminium; coal supplies) 1982 Jul 28 1983 Nov 30 2013 Aug 1 Confidential 106
PREM19/2251 Industrial Policy (Investment in management development: government departments joining the Management Charter Initiative) 1987 Apr 6 1988 Dec 2 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 65
PREM19/2250 Industrial Policy (Information Technology Advisory Panel (ITAP) report 'Making a Business of Information'; dissolution of ITAP) (Part 4) 1983 Sep 1 1987 Jan 30 2016 Jul 21 1 Restricted 207
PREM19/3394 Industrial Policy (Industrial relations legislation: strikes in essential services; Green Paper 'Industrial Relations in the 1990s') (Part 16) 1989 Sep 6 1991 Nov 25 2017 Jul 20 Secret 361
PREM19/2249 Industrial Policy (Industrial relations law) (Part 13) 1987 Feb 4 1987 Sep 29 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 224
PREM19/2248 Industrial Policy (Industrial relations law) (Part 12) 1985 Mar 6 1987 Jan 28 2016 Jul 21 Secret 264
PREM19/1542 Industrial policy (Industrial relations law) (Part 11) 1984 Apr 5 1985 Jan 14 2014 Dec 30 Secret 251
PREM19/1281 Industrial policy (Industrial relations law) (Part 10) 1983 Mar 4 1984 Apr 28 2014 Jan 3 Secret 274
PREM19/2247 Industrial Policy (Industrial production) 1987 Jul 14 1987 Aug 10 2016 Jul 21 Unclassified 29
PREM19/1541 Industrial policy (Industrial action in the oil industry: possible tanker drivers' strike; contingency planning) 1979 Nov 30 1985 Oct 28 2014 Dec 30 Secret 187
PREM19/2245 Industrial Policy (Industrial action by seamen) 1981 Jan 12 1988 Jun 15 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 117
PREM19/4238 Industrial Policy (General Motors/Vauxhall Motors: includes meeting with the President of General Motors to discuss the future of Vauxhall Motors on 30 January 1981: pay of Vauxhall Motors) 1980 Dec 29 1993 Apr 16 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3397 Industrial Policy (Future of Wages Councils) (Part 4) 1990 Feb 5 1991 May 13 2017 Jul 20 Confidential 15
PREM19/3042 Industrial Policy (Future of the Rover Group: National Audit Office report on the sale of the Rover Group) (Part 16) 1989 Jan 7 1990 Mar 30 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2257 Industrial Policy (Future of the Rover Group) (Part 15) 1988 Mar 1 1988 Dec 23 2016 Jul 21 Secret Named Distribution Only 353

Pages