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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
PREM19/786 Hong Kong (Prime Minister's meetings with Sir Yue-Kong Pao, Chairman of World-wide Shipping Group) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1982 Jan 25 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 164
PREM19/963 China (Sino/British relations; defence sales) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1983 Nov 21 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 341
PREM19/4490 Turkey (Internal situation: European aid to Turkey) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1993 Aug 28 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/161 Defence (Defence budget) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1980 Jan 17 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 129
PREM19/1031 European policy (Enlargement of European Community (EC): accession of Greece; pre-accession aid to Portugal; Spanish accession; EC attitude to Turkey) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1983 Mar 10 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 168
PREM19/4587 Official Cars (Use of official cars) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1994 Dec 23 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28 File classification: Confidential Pages: 195
PREM19/1290 Ireland (Anglo-Irish economic co-operation; supply of natural gas from Irish Republic field at Kinsale to Northern Ireland) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1984 Sep 5 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 209
PREM19/228 European Policy (Prime Minister’s meetings with President of European Commission, Roy Jenkins) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1980 Nov 4 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 192
PREM19/90 Local government (Relations with central government, organisation & finance) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1979 Sep 18 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 228
PREM19/1371 Security (Irish terrorist activity in Great Britain) (Part 1A) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1982 Aug 11 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/76 Iran (Internal situation, including hostage crisis) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1979 Dec 10 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 268
PREM19/93 Ministers (Ministers assess position they inherited on taking office) Begins: 1979 May 9 Ends: 1979 May 11 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 52
PREM19/160 Defence (Nuclear release procedures; UK/US understandings on the use of nuclear weapons and bases) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 9 Ends: 1980 Mar 25 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown
PREM19/2563 United Nations (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 9 Ends: 1987 Sep 29 Date of release: 2016 Nov 7 File classification: Confidential Pages: 244
PREM19/1316 Ministers (Ministers’ outside interests; position of Ministers on appointment to office; membership at Lloyds; Questions of Procedure for Ministers) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 9 Ends: 1984 Sep 17 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 314

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