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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
PREM19/3139 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to New York to attend World Summit for Children and to receive UNIFEM award, September-October 1990: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1989 Oct 13 Ends: 1990 Oct 15 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 7 File classification: Secret Pages: 174
PREM19/3093 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): implementation of NHS reforms) (Part 23) Begins: 1989 Nov 1 Ends: 1990 Mar 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 210
PREM19/2917 Broadcasting (Television licence fees: Broadcasting Bill) (Part 10) Begins: 1989 Nov 1 Ends: 1990 Feb 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 320
PREM19/2658 Environmental Affairs (Environmental policy: environmental pollution: climate change; Environmental Protection Bill) (Part 12) Begins: 1989 Nov 1 Ends: 1989 Nov 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 220
PREM19/3171 South Africa (Internal situation: relations with UK; release of Nelson Mandela) (Part 21) Begins: 1989 Nov 1 Ends: 1990 Feb 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 10 File classification: Secret Cab One Pages: 493
PREM19/2668 European Policy (European Council meeting, Strasbourg, December 1989) (Part 35) Begins: 1989 Nov 3 Ends: 1989 Dec 11 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3434 Malaysia (UK/Malaysia relations: internal situation) (Part 4) Begins: 1989 Nov 6 Ends: 1991 Nov 29 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3017 Government Machinery (Rayner Scrutiny programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste; value for money seminars; Next Steps initiative) (Part 32) Begins: 1989 Nov 6 Ends: 1990 Feb 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3116 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Gerald Carroll, Chairman of the Carroll Group, 22 January 1990) Begins: 1989 Nov 8 Ends: 1990 Oct 1 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Restricted Pages: 92
PREM19/2672 European Policy (Meeting of European Community leaders to discuss the situation in Eastern Europe, Paris, 18 November 1989) Begins: 1989 Nov 13 Ends: 1989 Nov 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3142 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Paris to attend the Heads of Government dinner, November 1989: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1989 Nov 15 Ends: 1990 Jan 10 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Confidential Pages: 18
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
PREM19/3579 Treasury ​​​​​​​(Barlow Clowes)​​​​​​​ (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Nov 16 Ends: 1991 Dec 19 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3189 Trade (Chambers of Commerce) Begins: 1989 Nov 16 Ends: 1990 Feb 21 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 4
PREM19/2823 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Brussels for NATO Summit, December 1989: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1989 Nov 19 Ends: 1989 Dec 5 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30

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