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 namesort descending Title Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/4348 Police (Police pay) (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Aug 1 Ends: 1993 Nov 16 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4349 Police (Police policy) (Part 4) Begins: 1990 Jul 2 Ends: 1993 Jan 20 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4352 Posts and Telecommunication (Pay negotiations in the Post Office and British Telecom (BT): industrial action) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Sep 14 Ends: 1993 Aug 17 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4353 Portugal (UK/Portugal relations) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Nov 14 Ends: 1993 Dec 16 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4354 Portugal (Visits to UK by Prime Ministers Francisco Balsemao, December 1981 and Anibal Cavaco Silva, March 1988) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Nov 6 Ends: 1993 Jan 28 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4361 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with the Board of Deputies of British Jews) Begins: 1979 Oct 12 Ends: 1993 Mar 25 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4362 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's international commitments: policy on foreign visitors) (Part 2. With slides and negatives) Begins: 1988 Sep 8 Ends: 1992 Dec 14 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4363 Prime Minister (Request from Mr Seymour Reich, President of B'nai B'rith International, for a meeting with the Prime Minister: Middle East peace process and Soviet Jewry) Begins: 1989 Jul 31 Ends: 1992 Nov 10 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4365 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with the Governor of the Bank of England) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Jan 8 Ends: 1993 Jun 16 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4366 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Lord Young) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Mar 7 Ends: 1993 Jun 25 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4386 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with ex members of the Cabinet) (Part 1) Begins: 1988 Jun 7 Ends: 1993 Sep 21 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4390 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with the Chairmen of ICI, Sir Maurice Hodgson, 20 October 1980 and Sir Denys Henderson, 19 June 1991) Begins: 1980 Oct 2 Ends: 1993 Jan 22 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4400 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to World Economic Forum in Davos, 28 January-1 February 1992: includes correspondence on the 1990 annual meeting) Begins: 1990 Sep 10 Ends: 1993 Oct 8 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4409 Qatar (UK/Qatar relations: internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Feb 15 Ends: 1993 Dec 14 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4412 Royal Family (40th Anniversary of The Queen's Accession to the Throne: includes 30th Anniversary of The Queen's Coronation) Begins: 1983 Feb 10 Ends: 1993 Aug 4 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28