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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
PREM19/1323 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
PREM19/1228 European policy (European Community budget; future of Europe) (Part 24) Begins: 1984 Apr 2 Ends: 1984 May 31 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 334
PREM19/3464 National Health (Nurses' pay: nurses clinical regrading exercise) (Part 4) Begins: 1988 Aug 11 Ends: 1990 Dec 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 334
PREM19/1191 Economic policy (Public Spending) (Part 27) Begins: 1984 Mar 2 Ends: 1984 Aug 22 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 335
PREM19/761 France (Internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Apr 12 Ends: 1982 Jan 25 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Confidential Pages: 335
PREM19/2723 Home Affairs (Race relations: Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) draft Code of Practice; scrutiny of grants under section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 May 14 Ends: 1989 May 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 335
PREM19/506 Ireland (Hunger strike at the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland; the 'Dirty Protest') (Part 5) Begins: 1981 Jul 3 Ends: 1981 Aug 28 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 335
PREM19/1197 Economic policy (Budget) (Part 11) Begins: 1983 Mar 17 Ends: 1984 Feb 28 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 336
PREM19/3063 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 16) Begins: 1990 Jan 2 Ends: 1990 Feb 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 336
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
PREM19/505 Ireland (Hunger strike at the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland; the 'Dirty Protest') (Part 4) Begins: 1981 May 20 Ends: 1981 Jul 2 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 336
PREM19/3155 Science and Technology (Maintaining the strength of the science base: the science budget; report on 'Developments in Biotechnology') (Part 10) Begins: 1990 Jan 2 Ends: 1990 Mar 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 337
PREM19/717 Economic policy (Public Spending) (Part 19) Begins: 1982 Mar 12 Ends: 1982 Jul 25 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 337
PREM19/2523 Social Services (Pensions: portable pensions; Inquiry into Provision for Retirement; consultation document on personal pensions) Begins: 1983 Sep 30 Ends: 1988 Feb 19 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Pages: 337

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