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 classification Pagessort descending
PREM19/2652 Environmental Affairs (Environmental policy: environmental pollution: climate change; London Conference on Saving the Ozone Layer, March 1989) (Part 6) Begins: 1988 Aug 1 Ends: 1989 Jan 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 392
PREM19/2982 European Policy (European Monetary System (EMS): economic and monetary union) (Part 6) [part 5 is PREM19/3741] Begins: 1989 Nov 16 Ends: 1990 Apr 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 393
PREM19/1317 National health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS); NHS Management Inquiry Report (Griffiths Report); priorities and policies for health and personal social services) (Part 2) Begins: 1983 Apr 7 Ends: 1984 Feb 20 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 393
PREM19/1457 Economic policy (Domestic monetary policy) (Part 13) Begins: 1985 May 10 Ends: 1985 Jun 28 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 394
PREM19/3479 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with the National Pensioners Convention) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Jan 8 Ends: 1991 Feb 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 394
PREM19/3403 Ireland (Prime Minister's meetings with the Taoiseach: Anglo-Irish Summits; Anglo-Irish relations) (Part 21) Begins: 1990 Apr 6 Ends: 1991 Jul 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 395
PREM19/1585 Nationalised Industries (Nationalised industry legislation: investment and financing review; privatisation; report on state monopolies) (Part 9) Begins: 1984 May 29 Ends: 1985 Feb 28 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 395
PREM19/1334 Nationalised industries (Coal mines) (Part 13) Begins: 1984 Sep 21 Ends: 1984 Oct 19 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Secret Pages: 396
PREM19/1369 Science and technology (Maintaining the strength of the science base; the science budget; review of high energy particle physics (HEPP); annual review of government funded research and development 1984) (Part 1) Begins: 1983 Sep 15 Ends: 1984 Jul 30 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 396
PREM19/1070 Ireland (Prime Minister's meetings with the Taoiseach; Anglo-Irish Summit; Anglo-Irish joint studies) (Part 6) Begins: 1981 Nov 9 Ends: 1983 Oct 31 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 396
PREM19/2340 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): NHS Review) (Part 14) Begins: 1988 Jul 1 Ends: 1988 Sep 30 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Pages: 396
PREM19/3107 Parliament (House of Commons procedure: Select Committees) (Part 10) Begins: 1989 Apr 7 Ends: 1990 May 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential - not for NAO eyes Pages: 397
PREM19/2643 Education (General policy on education) (Part 20) Begins: 1988 Dec 1 Ends: 1989 Mar 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 397
PREM19/415 Defence (Defence budget) (Part 5) Begins: 1981 Mar 11 Ends: 1981 May 17 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 397
PREM19/1458 Economic policy (Domestic monetary policy) (Part 14) Begins: 1985 Jul 3 Ends: 1985 Nov 29 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 397

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