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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
PREM19/3386 Hong Kong (Future of Hong Kong) (Part 24) Begins: 1990 Apr 1 Ends: 1991 Mar 28 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3001 Germany (Internal situation in East Germany: policy towards German reunification) (Part 4) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1990 Aug 24 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3156 Science and Technology (Maintaining the strength of the science base: the science budget) (Part 11) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1990 Dec 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 212
PREM19/3782 Government Machinery (The way forward: the direction of future government policy; medium-term objectives) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1992 Nov 27 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 359
PREM19/4217 Home Affairs (Policy towards the Prison Service: industrial action by the Prison Officers Association; private sector involvement in the remand system) (Part 6) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1993 Mar 30 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3046 Iraq (UK/Iraq relations) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1990 Jul 17 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3766 Germany (Visits to the UK by Chancellor Kohl) (Part 11A) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1992 Nov 6 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 229
PREM19/3094 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): implementation of NHS reforms) (Part 24) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1990 May 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 276
PREM19/3019 Government Machinery ( Rayner Scrutiny Programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste; value for money seminars; Next Steps initiative) (Part 34) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1990 Oct 19 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3474 Parliament (Legislative programme) (Part 20) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1991 Jan 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 290
PREM19/3065 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 18) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1990 Apr 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 420
PREM19/2956 Education (General policy on education) (Part 25) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1990 May 29 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2913 Bermuda (Prime Minister's visit to Bermuda, April 1990: meeting with George H W Bush, President of the USA) (Part 1) Begins: 1990 Apr 4 Ends: 1990 Aug 17 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 9 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 270
PREM19/3403 Ireland (Prime Minister's meetings with the Taoiseach: Anglo-Irish Summits; Anglo-Irish relations) (Part 21) Begins: 1990 Apr 6 Ends: 1991 Jul 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 395
PREM19/2905 Agriculture (Salmonella and eggs) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Apr 6 Ends: 1990 Nov 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30

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