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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
PREM19/932 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
PREM19/1614 Regional Policy (Inner city policy: Urban Development Corporations: Government help for Liverpool and Merseyside) (Part 4) Begins: 1983 Sep 14 Ends: 1984 Apr 26 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 340
PREM19/1516 Government Machinery (Rayner Scrutiny Programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste) (Part 17) Begins: 1984 Nov 22 Ends: 1985 Apr 30 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 340
PREM19/1454 Economic policy (Public Spending) (Part 33) Begins: 1985 Oct 1 Ends: 1985 Nov 26 Date of release: 2015 Jul 16 File classification: Secret Pages: 341
PREM19/734 Energy (Energy policy; nuclear power policy; fast reactor policy; Sizewell Inquiry; oil depletion policy; refinery and dispersal strategy; Select Committee report on nuclear power programme) (Part 6) Begins: 1980 Dec 11 Ends: 1982 Jan 20 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Confidential Pages: 341
PREM19/479 Government machinery (Promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste: the Rayner Scrutiny Programme) (Part 9) Begins: 1981 May 21 Ends: 1981 Sep 16 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 341
PREM19/3706 Energy (Future offshore petroleum licensing: 9th to 14th licensing rounds; oil taxation) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Jan 11 Ends: 1992 Feb 28 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 341
PREM19/2304 Local Government (Future of the rating system; rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 5) Begins: 1986 Sep 2 Ends: 1987 Jan 30 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19 File classification: Secret Pages: 341
PREM19/963 China (Sino/British relations; defence sales) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1983 Nov 21 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 341
PREM19/1647 Soviet Union (UK/Soviet relations) (Part 4) Begins: 1985 Jan 3 Ends: 1985 Oct 25 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 341
PREM19/3779 Government Machinery (Annual reports on the Government Statistical Service: government economic statistics; launch of Central Statistical Office (CSO) as an executive agency) (Part 3) Begins: 1988 Dec 12 Ends: 1992 Jan 17 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 341
PREM19/2162 European Policy (European Monetary System (EMS)) (Part 2) Begins: 1982 Mar 1 Ends: 1987 Jan 7 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Pages: 342
PREM19/113 Rhodesia (Situation in) (Part 8) Begins: 1979 Oct 11 Ends: 1979 Oct 31 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 342
PREM19/2085 Economic Policy (Domestic monetary policy) (Part 17) Begins: 1987 Jul 6 Ends: 1987 Dec 8 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Pages: 342

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