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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 Ends Date of release Any docs withheld?sort descending File classification Pages
PREM19/2463 Regional Policy (Inner Cities Initiative: action following report by Eric Sorensen; Ministerial and departmental responsibility for coordination and presentation of policy towards inner cities; Kenneth Clarke, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to assume coordination responsibility; designation of further Urban Development Corporations (UDCs)) (Part 11) Begins: 1987 Sep 23 Ends: 1987 Nov 10 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 306
PREM19/2400 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with a delegation of Muslim religious leaders, 28 April 1988) Begins: 1988 Jan 28 Ends: 1988 Jun 7 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Restricted Pages: 80
PREM19/2634 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Paris, July 1989) (Part 28) [filed out of sequence; for Part 27 see PREM19/3277] Begins: 1989 Jul 10 Ends: 1989 Jul 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 333
PREM19/816 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 12) Begins: 1982 Jul 1 Ends: 1982 Nov 12 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 181
PREM19/3641 Defence (Basing of United States Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM) in the UK) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Apr 18 Ends: 1992 May 20 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 114
PREM19/2927 Commonwealth (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, October 1989) (Part 16) Begins: 1989 Oct 1 Ends: 1990 Oct 24 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 310
PREM19/2021 Bahrain (UK/Bahraini relations) ​​​​​​​(Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 26 Ends: 1987 Jul 16 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 264
PREM19/3093 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): implementation of NHS reforms) (Part 23) Begins: 1989 Nov 1 Ends: 1990 Mar 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 210
PREM19/1394 Soviet Union (UK/Soviet relations; visit to UK by Mikhail Gorbachev, member of Politburo, December 1984; meeting with Prime Minister) (Part 3) Begins: 1984 Jun 4 Ends: 1984 Dec 22 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 411
PREM19/2417 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan) Begins: 1983 Feb 3 Ends: 1988 Dec 5 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 54
PREM19/3368 Government Machinery (Presentation of government policies) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Aug 1 Ends: 1991 May 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 328
PREM19/2862 South Africa (Situation in Namibia) (Part 4) Begins: 1986 Mar 3 Ends: 1989 Apr 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret - Cab One Pages: 363
PREM19/2465 Regional Policy (Inner Cities Initiative: launch by Prime Minister of 'Action for Cities'; function of Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster as Minister coordinating inner city policy; review of Cabinet Office Unit under Eric Sorensen) (Part 13) Begins: 1988 Mar 1 Ends: 1988 May 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 296
PREM19/467 Foreign policy (Prime Minister's visit to Saudi Arabia & the Gulf States, April 1981) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Feb 8 Ends: 1981 Apr 13 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 201
PREM19/3846 Local Government (Water industry: structural change; privatisation of the water authorities; consultation paper 'Using Water Wisely') (Part 7) Begins: 1989 Sep 4 Ends: 1992 Nov 23 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 408

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