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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.

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 and links to the PM’s files

Below are links to the downloadable files in numerical order. The subject terms are those used in the original filing system.

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.

Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Private Office files, 1979-1989

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 classificationsort descending Pages
PREM19/2059 Defence (Defence sales) (Part 8) Begins: 1987 Jan 8 Ends: 1987 Jul 23 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2516 Security (Lord and Lady Rothschild) Begins: 1987 Jun 8 Ends: 1987 Jul 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2060 Defence (Defence sales) (Part 9) Begins: 1987 Aug 3 Ends: 1988 Jan 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2297 Libya (Internal situation: relations with UK) (Part 7) Begins: 1986 May 1 Ends: 1987 Feb 27 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2174 Foreign Policy (Future inward and outward State visits; visits by members of the Royal Family) Begins: 1985 Sep 1 Ends: 1988 Aug 5 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2484 Security (Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ): changes in funding, status and staffing at) (Part 5) Begins: 1986 Apr 17 Ends: 1988 May 27 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2061 Defence (Defence sales) (Part 10) Begins: 1988 Feb 3 Ends: 1988 Jul 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2486 Security (Correspondence with Anthony Steven Divall) Begins: 1988 May 31 Ends: 1988 Oct 4 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2176 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to Australia, Bahrain, Oman, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Dubai, August 1988) (Part 1) Begins: 1988 May 12 Ends: 1988 Jul 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2487 Security (Correspondence with Gavin Strong MP concerning Archibald and Jane Williams) Begins: 1988 Feb 19 Ends: 1988 Mar 15 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2488 Security (Correspondence with Lieutenant Colonel Robert Butler) Begins: 1983 Apr 15 Ends: 1988 Mar 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2199 Government Machinery (Special advisers; appointment procedure) (Part 3) Begins: 1984 Jan 12 Ends: 1987 Jun 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2530 Soviet Union (Prime Minister's visit to Soviet Union, March-April 1987: briefing for Prime Minister) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Apr 1 Ends: 1987 Jun 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2489 Security (Distribution of the Prime Minister's diary) Begins: 1981 May 13 Ends: 1988 May 24 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2753 Japan (Prime Minister's visit to Japan, September 1989) (Part 3a) Begins: 1989 Apr 27 Ends: 1989 Sep 15 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department

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