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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
PREM19/3346 France (Prime Minister's visits to France: Anglo-French Summits) (Part 7) Begins: 1989 Mar 1 Ends: 1991 Jul 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 270
PREM19/2445 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Berlin, September 1987: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1987 Aug 6 Ends: 1987 Sep 28 Date of release: 2016 Nov 7 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 64
PREM19/3456 Middle East (Conclusions of the Ad Hoc Group on the Gulf (AHGG)) Begins: 1990 Nov 5 Ends: 1991 Feb 14 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 243
PREM19/878 Prime Minister (Communications with Jimmy Savile concerning tax deductions for charitable donations following his fund raising for Stoke Mandeville hospital) Begins: 1980 Feb 5 Ends: 1982 Jan 8 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 22
PREM19/655 Argentina (Falkland Islands Review Committee (chaired by Lord Franks): general correspondence) (Part 2) Begins: 1982 Jul 6 Ends: 1982 Oct 28 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 273
PREM19/2213 Guyana (Visits to UK by Guyanese Presidents Forbes Burnham and Desmond Hoyte) Begins: 1980 Jan 11 Ends: 1988 May 11 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 219
PREM19/1425 China (Sino-British relations; defence sales) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Mar 19 Ends: 1985 May 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 236
PREM19/1882 Parliament (Queen's Speeches on prorogation and opening of Parliament; televising proceedings of the House of Commons) (Part 6) Begins: 1984 Nov 2 Ends: 1986 Mar 11 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 4
PREM19/2285 Japan (Anglo-Japanese relations) (Part 7) Begins: 1987 May 6 Ends: 1988 Jun 30 Date of release: 2016 Nov 7 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 285
PREM19/1299 Libya (UK/Libyan relations; threat to Libyan dissidents in UK) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jul 9 Ends: 1984 Mar 23 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 151
PREM19/1737 Energy (Oil prices: prospects for world oil market; proposed Petroleum Bill; North Sea oil prices; heavy fuel oil prices; oil prices in the longer term) (Part 2) Begins: 1983 Oct 7 Ends: 1986 Jan 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 31 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret and Personal Pages: 336
PREM19/3760 Foreign Policy (East/West relations) (Part 12) Begins: 1990 Aug 7 Ends: 1992 Apr 29 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 459
PREM19/3302 Elections (Election procedure) (Part 4) Begins: 1990 Sep 5 Ends: 1991 Jan 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 175
PREM19/1300 Libya (UK/Libyan relations; threat to Libyan dissidents in UK; shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside Libyan People's Bureau, 17 April 1984; severance of diplomatic relations) (Part 2A) Begins: 1984 Apr 17 Ends: 1984 May 2 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 207
PREM19/1658 USA (Prime Minister's visit to Washington, February 1985) (Part 4A) Begins: 1984 Dec 10 Ends: 1985 Feb 15 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 320

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