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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
PREM19/241 Government Machinery (Responsibility for science matters; future of Advisory Council for Applied Research and Development (ACARD)) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 16 Ends: 1980 Feb 28 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 147
PREM19/117 Rhodesia (Lord Boyd's Report on April 1979 election) Begins: 1979 May 16 Ends: 1979 May 16 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 74
PREM19/247 Government Machinery (Ministerial co-ordination of maritime affairs) Begins: 1979 May 16 Ends: 1980 Feb 21 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 14
PREM19/183 Economic policy (Prime Minister’s meetings with Gordon Pepper) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 16 Ends: 1980 Mar 31 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 202
PREM19/2082 Economic Policy (Correspondence from and meetings with Sir Walter Salomon, private banker) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 16 Ends: 1987 Jan 23 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1234 European policy (Elections to European Parliament) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 16 Ends: 1984 Mar 19 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 47
PREM19/78 Iran (Jewish community - correspondence with President Carter) Begins: 1979 May 15 Ends: 1979 May 24 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 23
PREM19/30 Economic policy (National Economic Development Council) (NEDC) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 15 Ends: 1979 Dec 18 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 219
PREM19/936 Transport (Armitage Report on Lorries, People and the Environment; draft White Paper) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 15 Ends: 1982 Sep 30 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Confidential Pages: 197
PREM19/941 USA (Economic situation in the United States) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 15 Ends: 1981 Sep 30 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 275
PREM19/2921 China (Sino-Soviet relations: visits by Edward Heath MP) Begins: 1979 May 15 Ends: 1990 Jan 15 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/333 Post and Telecommunications (Postal tariff increases; industrial dispute; finances; industrial democracy. Future of the Post Office: British Telecommunications (BT); telecommunications monopoly; postal monopoly) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 15 Ends: 1980 Jul 4 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 258
PREM19/255 Hong Kong (UK trade with China; power projects in Hong Kong involving UK companies) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1980 Dec 31 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 142
PREM19/581 Royal family (Visits to Northern Ireland by Princess Alexandra, June 1979 and June 1981) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1981 May 29 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 9
PREM19/2640 Economic Policy (Vehicle Excise Duty) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1989 May 2 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30

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