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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
PREM19/1656 USA (UK/USA relations) (Part 3) Begins: 1984 Feb 9 Ends: 1985 May 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 333
PREM19/1250 Government machinery (Promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste: the Scrutiny Programme) (Part 14) Begins: 1983 Mar 1 Ends: 1984 Feb 28 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 333
PREM19/2102 Economic Policy (Policy towards privatisation; disposal of public sector assets; contracting out of public sector functions) (Part 16) Begins: 1987 Apr 1 Ends: 1988 Dec 14 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 333
PREM19/1335 Nationalised industries (Coal mines) (Part 14) Begins: 1984 Oct 20 Ends: 1984 Nov 20 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 333
PREM19/3783 Government Machinery (Transfer of Ministerial responsibility for zoos and associated matters to the Secretary of State for the Environment: financial support for London Zoo) Begins: 1979 Oct 18 Ends: 1992 Oct 30 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 333
PREM19/2695 Germany (Anglo-German relations) (Part 4) Begins: 1986 Oct 3 Ends: 1989 Aug 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 333
PREM19/1550 Ireland (Prime Minister's meetings with the Taoiseach: Anglo-Irish relations) (Part 9) Begins: 1985 Jul 1 Ends: 1985 Sep 30 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 333
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
PREM19/2237 Housing (Housing policy) (Part 11) Begins: 1988 Feb 1 Ends: 1988 Apr 29 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Confidential Pages: 334
PREM19/1496 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to South-East Asia, April 1985) (Part 1) Begins: 1984 Dec 13 Ends: 1985 Mar 21 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 334
PREM19/2142 Environmental Affairs (Environmental policy; establishment of HM Inspectorate of Pollution; acid rain - European Community directive on large combustion plants; air pollution; Government response to Select Committee on the Environment report on river and estuary pollution) (Part 5) Begins: 1986 Aug 1 Ends: 1988 Jul 27 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 334
PREM19/1082 Local government (Future of rating system; alternatives to domestic rates; rate limitation schemes) (Part 2) Begins: 1982 Jul 23 Ends: 1983 Jun 29 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 334
PREM19/2112 Economic Policy (Pay Review Body reports: top salaries, armed forces, doctors and dentists, nurses, midwives and professions allied to medicine) (Part 9) Begins: 1986 Oct 27 Ends: 1988 May 26 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret and Personal Pages: 334
PREM19/1323 Nationalised industries (Pay of Chairmen and Board members) (Part 2) Begins: 1981 Dec 4 Ends: 1984 May 29 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 334
PREM19/1615 Regional Policy (Inner city policy: Urban Programme; illegal rate setting by Liverpool City Council; appointment of commissioners; reorganisation of schools) (Part 5) Begins: 1984 Apr 27 Ends: 1985 Jan 28 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 334

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