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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 ascending Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/213 Defence (Arms control) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jun 18 Ends: 1979 Aug 24 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Secret Pages: 231
PREM19/43 Energy (Energy Policy) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jun 17 Ends: 1979 Oct 30 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 232
PREM19/25 Economic policy (Strategy) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jun 17 Ends: 1979 Jul 13 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 167
PREM19/130 Vietnam (Vietnamese boat people) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jun 15 Ends: 1979 Jul 19 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 304
PREM19/407 Civil service (Pay of professional, technological and scientific grades: possibility of industrial action; review of Scientific Civil Service) Begins: 1979 Jun 15 Ends: 1981 Jul 9 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 282
PREM19/1624 Security (Allegations made to Kenneth Warren MP by John Kane about security standards at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) establishments) Begins: 1979 Jun 14 Ends: 1984 Mar 26 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4619 Dominica (UK/Dominica relations: internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 14 Ends: 1994 Feb 18 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/288 Liberia (Visit to UK by President Tolbert, December 1979: meeting with Prime Minister) Begins: 1979 Jun 13 Ends: 1980 Mar 5 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 141
PREM19/2536 Soviet Union (Soviet visa applications) Begins: 1979 Jun 13 Ends: 1987 Jan 12 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/59 Germany (MT visits to, Bonn Oct 1979) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jun 11 Ends: 1979 Dec 7 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 156
PREM19/252 Home Affairs (Pay of magistrates court staff; industrial action) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 11 Ends: 1980 Oct 13 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 157
PREM19/1770 Government Machinery (Crown Agents Tribunal of Enquiry: future of the Crown Agents) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 11 Ends: 1986 Jan 29 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/175 Economic policy (Budget) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jun 11 Ends: 1980 Feb 28 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 225
PREM19/3587 USA (Calls on the Prime Minister by David Rockefeller)​​​​​​​ Begins: 1979 Jun 11 Ends: 1991 Nov 18 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 101
PREM19/747 European policy (Elections of President of European Parliament; candidacies) Begins: 1979 Jun 11 Ends: 1982 Jan 21 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Confidential Pages: 12

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