The Cabinet Papers website is a resource where researchers can investigate digitised Cabinet documents, whether they are conclusions from meetings, memoranda, or precedent books, to better understand the decision-making process in government, and the concept of Cabinet collective responsibility. Covering the period from 1916, when the Cabinet Office was established, to when the most recent files released following 30 year closure are added (currently 1982), the Cabinet Papers site allows us to trace high level decisions from Lloyd George’s government during the Great War, Churchill’s War Cabinet, Attlee’s post-war social reforms, through to Thatcher’s ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ dichotomy in the early 1980s.
Another interesting set of documents which can be found on the Cabinet Papers site – which take slightly longer to reach us – is the Cabinet Secretary’s Notebook. This set of documents, which constitutes the series CAB 195, is one of those ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ series, consisting of hand-written notes of cabinet meetings taken by the Cabinet Secretary. The notebooks offer a very useful – not to mention interesting – addition to studying the conclusions of cabinet meetings. Since 1919 only conclusions from cabinet meetings were collected (as opposed to minutes) reflecting a desire to project collective responsibility and simply record agreement, but the Cabinet Secretary’s notebook provides an extra level of detail. The notebooks unveil the content of cabinet discussions somewhat.