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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? File classification Pagessort descending
PREM19/1049 Grenada (US-led invasion) (Part 2) Begins: 1983 Oct 28 Ends: 1983 Dec 16 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 18 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 321
PREM19/3328 European Policy (Setting up of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Oct 4 Ends: 1991 Apr 11 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 321
PREM19/3097 Nationalised Industries (Coal mines) (Part 21) Begins: 1987 Nov 4 Ends: 1990 Jun 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 321
PREM19/239 France (Prime Minister’s visit to France, September 1980: Franco-British Conference at Bordeaux) Begins: 1979 Oct 9 Ends: 1980 Oct 6 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 321
PREM19/3095 National Health (The Cyclotron Trust) (Part 1) Begins: 1989 Jan 4 Ends: 1990 May 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 322
PREM19/3390 Housing (Housing policy) (Part 17) Begins: 1990 Jul 1 Ends: 1991 Jul 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 322
PREM19/3369 Government Machinery (Rayner Scrutiny Programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste: Next Steps initiative; future of Deregulation Initiative) (Part 35) Begins: 1990 Aug 1 Ends: 1991 Jan 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 322
PREM19/1058 Hong Kong (Future of Hong Kong) (Part 9) Begins: 1983 Oct 1 Ends: 1983 Oct 31 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 322
PREM19/995 Economic policy (Liaison Committee on presentation of government policies; nuclear opinion poll; guidance to Ministers and MPs) (Part 3) Begins: 1982 Dec 1 Ends: 1984 Oct 8 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 322
PREM19/2607 Commonwealth (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM), Kuala Lumpur, October 1989) (Part 15) Begins: 1989 Oct 1 Ends: 1989 Oct 21 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Secret Pages: 322
PREM19/758 Foreign policy (Third United Nations Law of the Sea Conference; extension of the UK territorial sea) Begins: 1980 May 6 Ends: 1982 Dec 24 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 322
PREM19/951 Argentina (Falklands) (Part 33) Begins: 1983 Mar 3 Ends: 1983 Apr 30 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 9 File classification: Secret Pages: 322
PREM19/2625 Economic Policy (Public Spending) (Part 41) Begins: 1989 Jan 10 Ends: 1989 May 25 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 323
PREM19/1520 Home Affairs (Review of the law on public order: Green Paper) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Mar 26 Ends: 1985 Jan 30 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 323
PREM19/1791 Home Affairs (Disposal of nuclear waste) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jul 20 Ends: 1986 Jan 22 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 323

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