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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 Beginssort descending Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3376 Home Affairs (The problem of dangerous dogs) (Part 1) Begins: 1989 Jun 8 Ends: 1991 Mar 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 264
PREM19/3539 Social Services (Change in the pension age) Begins: 1989 Jun 9 Ends: 1991 Jan 23 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 70
PREM19/3068 Local Government (Relations between central and local government: local authority expenditure) (Part 37) Begins: 1989 Jun 9 Ends: 1990 Feb 26 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 346
PREM19/3674 Economic Policy (Exchange rate: exchange control policy) (Part 4) Begins: 1989 Jun 13 Ends: 1992 Jan 8 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 67
PREM19/2959 Education (Teachers' pay) (Part 12) Begins: 1989 Jun 13 Ends: 1990 Sep 13 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3650 Defence (Military uses of laser technology in space: United States Strategic Defence Initiative; Global Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS)) (Part 6) Begins: 1989 Jun 14 Ends: 1992 Sep 23 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 212
PREM19/2963 Environmental Affairs (Ban on trading in ivory) Begins: 1989 Jun 14 Ends: 1990 Mar 27 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/4052 Defence (Prime Minister's visits to Clyde Submarine Base: anniversaries in the history of Nuclear Powered Ballistic Submarines (SSBN); launch of a frigate in Scotland) Begins: 1989 Jun 15 Ends: 1993 Jan 13 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2871 Soviet Union (Visit to the UK by General Dimitri Yazov, Soviet Defence Minister, July 1989) Begins: 1989 Jun 16 Ends: 1989 Aug 1 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2666 European Policy (European Council meeting, Madrid, June 1989) (Part 33) Begins: 1989 Jun 23 Ends: 1989 Jun 27 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 348
PREM19/2667 European Policy (European Council meeting, Madrid, June 1989) (Part 34) Begins: 1989 Jun 27 Ends: 1989 Jul 17 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3600 Environmental Affairs (Policy on waste disposal and sewage) Begins: 1989 Jun 30 Ends: 1991 Apr 3 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 24
PREM19/2806 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Robert Crandall, Chairman of American Airlines, 30 October 1989) Begins: 1989 Jun 30 Ends: 1989 Nov 3 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2681 Foreign Policy (Allegations concerning war criminals: War Crimes Inquiry) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Jun 30 Ends: 1989 Dec 22 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2927 Defence (Arms control talks and the effect on nuclear weapons) (Part 16) Begins: 1989 Jul 1 Ends: 1990 Feb 27 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20

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