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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 Begins Endssort descending Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/2932 Defence (Future UK defence policy) (Part 4) Begins: 1989 Apr 11 Ends: 1990 Jul 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2837 Science and Technology (Consideration of British candidates for Nobel Prizes for science) Begins: 1989 Apr 11 Ends: 1989 Apr 13 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 6
PREM19/2620 Disasters (Disaster at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, 15 April 1989) (Part 1) Begins: 1989 Apr 15 Ends: 1989 Jul 26 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 289
PREM19/2707 Government Machinery (Rayner Scrutiny Programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste; value for money seminars; Next Steps initiative) (Part 30) Begins: 1989 Apr 17 Ends: 1989 Jun 3 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3810 Industrial Policy (Short Brothers plc: sale to Bombardier; launch aid application for Learjet 45 project) (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Apr 18 Ends: 1992 Dec 4 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 93
PREM19/3175 Soviet Union (Prime Minister's visits to the Soviet Union, September 1989 and June 1990: policy) (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Apr 19 Ends: 1990 May 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 188
PREM19/2656 Environmental Affairs (Environmental policy: environmental pollution: climate change; Prime Minister's seminar on the global climate, April 1989) (Part 10) Begins: 1989 Apr 21 Ends: 1989 May 26 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 283
PREM19/2804 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Professor Abdus Salam, May 1989) Begins: 1989 Apr 21 Ends: 1989 May 8 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 28
PREM19/2582 Aerospace (Air Combat Manoeuvring Installation in the North Sea) Begins: 1989 Apr 23 Ends: 1989 Jun 6 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2870 Soviet Union (Visit to the UK by Dr Andrei Sakharov: meeting with the Prime Minister, 23 June 1989) Begins: 1989 Apr 26 Ends: 1989 Jun 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2753 Japan (Prime Minister's visit to Japan, September 1989) (Part 3a) Begins: 1989 Apr 27 Ends: 1989 Sep 15 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2889 United Nations (International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference, Nice, 1989) Begins: 1989 May 1 Ends: 1989 Jun 22 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2594 Broadcasting (Broadcasting policy) (Part 8) Begins: 1989 May 2 Ends: 1989 Jun 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 259
PREM19/2777 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): community care) (Part 21) Begins: 1989 May 2 Ends: 1989 Jun 26 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 290
PREM19/3173 South Africa (Situation in Namibia) (Part 5) Begins: 1989 May 2 Ends: 1990 Nov 15 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 205

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