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 Beginssort descending Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3691 Economic Policy (Reports of the Pay Review Bodies: review of the Office of Manpower Economics (OME)) (Part 11) Begins: 1990 Feb 1 Ends: 1992 Jan 24 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 370
PREM19/3574 Transport (British Rail: public transport fares in London; British Rail privatisation)​​​​​​​ (Part 11) Begins: 1990 Feb 1 Ends: 1991 Jul 26 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 302
PREM19/3037 India (Visit to the UK by Ramaswamy Venkataraman, President of India, April 1990) Begins: 1990 Feb 1 Ends: 1990 Apr 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3912 Qatar (Visits to the UK by the Amir of Qatar) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Feb 1 Ends: 1992 Feb 10 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 75
PREM19/3181 Soviet Union (UK/Soviet relations: internal situation; Lithuanian declaration of independence) (Part 15) Begins: 1990 Feb 1 Ends: 1990 Mar 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 20 File classification: Top Secret Cab One Pages: 307
PREM19/4732 Home Affairs (Behaviour of British football fans abroad: football hooliganism; Football Spectators Bill; Taylor Report on the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster) (Part 9) Begins: 1990 Feb 1 Ends: 1994 Jun 23 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3119 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with John Broome, 7 February 1990: proposed development of Battersea Power Station) Begins: 1990 Feb 2 Ends: 1990 Feb 7 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 18
PREM19/3397 Industrial Policy (Future of Wages Councils) (Part 4) Begins: 1990 Feb 5 Ends: 1991 May 13 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 15
PREM19/4152 Foreign Policy (Strategy on foreign policy and defence issues) (Part 5) Begins: 1990 Feb 5 Ends: 1993 Feb 22 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3207 USA (Prime Minister's visits to the USA) (Part 9) Begins: 1990 Feb 5 Ends: 1990 Aug 8 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 7 File classification: Secret Pages: 115
PREM19/3141 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's possible visit to Paris to attend European Democratic Union (EDU) working dinner, February 1990: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1990 Feb 5 Ends: 1990 Feb 15 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 6
PREM19/2966 Environmental Affairs (Environmental policy: environmental pollution: climate change; environmental objectives and land use planning) (Part 14) Begins: 1990 Feb 6 Ends: 1990 Feb 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Confidential Pages: 223
PREM19/4314 National Health (Industrial action in the National Health Service (NHS): NHS workers' pay (except nurses)) (Part 4) Begins: 1990 Feb 7 Ends: 1993 Dec 10 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3638 Czechoslovakia (Visit to the UK by President Vaclav Havel, March 1990; visits of the Czech Foreign Minister, April 1990, and Prime Minister Klaus, Jul 1992) Begins: 1990 Feb 7 Ends: 1992 Jul 3 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 114
PREM19/4500 USA (Economic situation) (Part 5) Begins: 1990 Feb 9 Ends: 1993 Apr 21 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28