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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 ascending Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/1943 Security (Security of economic statistics) Begins: 1979 Jun 5 Ends: 1986 Aug 20 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Confidential Pages: 37
PREM19/1818 Italy (Anglo-Italian relations: Italian political scene; British contribution to Italian earthquake relief, 1980-1981) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 5 Ends: 1986 Nov 6 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 387
PREM19/789 Hong Kong (Future of Hong Kong) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 5 Ends: 1982 Sep 8 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 297
PREM19/3382 Home Affairs (Probation Service pay: reorganisation of the Probation Service) Begins: 1979 Jun 5 Ends: 1991 Jun 11 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 164
PREM19/31 Economic policy (Privatization) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 4 Ends: 1979 Jul 20 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 189
PREM19/313 Nationalised Industries (Water industry pay; contingency planning) (Part 7) Begins: 1979 Jun 4 Ends: 1980 Nov 17 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 55
PREM19/3497 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's requirements for the submission and format of briefs for overseas affairs, speeches, MPs' correspondence, Parliamentary Questions and other important occasions: clearance procedure for statements and announcements) Begins: 1979 Jun 4 Ends: 1991 Oct 2 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 120
PREM19/63 Government machinery (Ministerial responsibility for population matters) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1979 Jun 4 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 4
PREM19/2058 Defence (Policy on biological and chemical weapons) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1988 Dec 23 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/97 Nationalized industries (Steel) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1979 Nov 12 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 133
PREM19/98 Nationalized industries (British Rail - cutback in fuel supplies) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1979 Jun 7 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 15
PREM19/512 Jordan (Visits to UK by King Hussein: meetings with Prime Minister) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1981 Nov 18 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 301
PREM19/19 Economic policy (Public Spending) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1979 Jul 16 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 206
PREM19/4200 Home Affairs (London taxi fares) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1993 Mar 26 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3963 Transport (Proposal by Greater London Council (GLC) to extend Jubilee line to Docklands) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1992 Apr 30 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department

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