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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
PREM19/2594 Broadcasting (Broadcasting policy) (Part 8) Begins: 1989 May 2 Ends: 1989 Jun 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 259
PREM19/2972 Environmental Affairs (The litter problem in the UK: Environmental Protection Bill) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 May 4 Ends: 1990 Jul 26 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2587 Arts and Amenities (Preservation of the Rose Theatre) Begins: 1989 May 9 Ends: 1989 Jun 12 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3269 Economic Policy (Briefing for the Prime Minister by Sir Alan Walters) Begins: 1989 May 10 Ends: 1991 Jan 15 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 35
PREM19/3117 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with Hartley Booth and Lew Wasserman: British Urban Development Ltd; proposed MCA theme park and film studio project at Rainham, Essex) Begins: 1989 May 15 Ends: 1990 May 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 381
PREM19/2743 Industrial Policy (Industrial relations law: strikes in essential services; industrial disputes) (Part 15) Begins: 1989 May 23 Ends: 1989 Aug 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2725 Home Affairs​​​​​​​ (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) Begins: 1989 May 24 Ends: 1989 Jul 17 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2626 Economic Policy (Public spending) (Part 42) Begins: 1989 May 25 Ends: 1989 Jul 26 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 415
PREM19/2663 European Policy (European Community budget: developments in the European Community) (Part 42) Begins: 1989 Jun 1 Ends: 1989 Sep 29 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3806 Industrial Policy (Ports: national dock strike in 1989; privatisation of Trust Ports) (Part 6) Begins: 1989 Jun 1 Ends: 1992 Mar 10 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 310
PREM19/2764 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 13) Begins: 1989 Jun 1 Ends: 1989 Jul 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 355
PREM19/3254 Defence (Deployment of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) in Europe: nuclear deterrence in Europe) (Part 7) Begins: 1989 Jun 4 Ends: 1991 May 21 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 157
PREM19/3793 Home Affairs (Race relations: grants under section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966; Government action on racial discrimination) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Jun 5 Ends: 1992 Dec 11 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 253
PREM19/2657 Environmental Affairs (Environmental policy: environmental pollution: climate change; proposed White Paper on the Environment) (Part 11) Begins: 1989 Jun 5 Ends: 1989 Oct 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 488
PREM19/2665 European Policy (European Council meeting, Madrid, June 1989) (Part 32) Begins: 1989 Jun 7 Ends: 1989 Jun 22 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 289

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