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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
PREM19/2523 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
PREM19/2631 Economic Policy (Exchange rate: exchange control policy) (Part 3) Begins: 1987 Jan 29 Ends: 1989 May 18 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 337
PREM19/2535 Soviet Union (Domestic scene: Soviet leadership succession (Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev)) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jun 20 Ends: 1987 Aug 5 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 337
PREM19/471 Germany (Prime Minister's meetings with Chancellor Schmidt in Bonn, November 1980 and November 1981: Anglo-German Summits) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Jun 4 Ends: 1981 Nov 18 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 338
PREM19/2165 European Policy (European Community budget) (Part 35) Begins: 1987 Feb 2 Ends: 1987 Apr 21 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Confidential Pages: 338
PREM19/1200 Economic policy (International banking system) (Part 3) Begins: 1983 Sep 1 Ends: 1984 Feb 24 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 338
PREM19/1284 Iraq (Internal situation; Iran-Iraq War; threat to Gulf oil supplies) (Part 4) Begins: 1984 Feb 16 Ends: 1984 Aug 31 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 338
PREM19/1215 Energy (Energy policy: nuclear power policy; fast reactor policy; Sizewell inquiry and procurement; structure of nuclear industry) (Part 8) Begins: 1982 Oct 27 Ends: 1984 Nov 30 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 339
PREM19/1311 Manpower (Strategy for industry and employment; reducing the burden of regulation on the economy; Chequers seminar on employment) (Part 1) Begins: 1983 Feb 15 Ends: 1984 Mar 30 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 339
PREM19/1152 USA (United States foreign policy; nuclear non-proliferation) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Mar 21 Ends: 1983 Dec 22 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 339
PREM19/2080 Economic Policy (Budget) (Part 17) Begins: 1987 Oct 2 Ends: 1988 Mar 31 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Pages: 339
PREM19/2761 Local Government (Correspondence from Sir John Sainsbury on planning controls: general planning inquiries; proposed Planning Bill) (Part 6) Begins: 1989 Mar 1 Ends: 1989 Aug 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 339
PREM19/2181 France (Anglo-French relations: French disruption of UK lamb trade; Anglo-French nuclear defence cooperation; Prime Minister Michel Rocard's environmental initiative) (Part 4) Begins: 1986 Nov 3 Ends: 1988 Nov 28 Date of release: 2017 Jan 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 339
PREM19/932 Transport (Railway policy: British Rail pay dispute; investigation into 'flexible rostering' by Railway Staff National Tribunal under Lord McCarthy; railway finances review by Sir David Serpell) (Part 3) Begins: 1982 Feb 10 Ends: 1982 May 7 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 340
PREM19/2110 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Toronto: Prime Minister's Personal Representative for Economic Summits; 'Sherpa' papers) (Part 3) Begins: 1988 Jun 1 Ends: 1988 Jul 29 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 340

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