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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
PREM19/1310 Mauritius (Visits to UK by Prime Ministers Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam and Anerood Jugnauth: meetings with Prime Minister) Begins: 1980 Jan 18 Ends: 1984 Sep 7 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 348
PREM19/2666 European Policy (European Council meeting, Madrid, June 1989) (Part 33) Begins: 1989 Jun 23 Ends: 1989 Jun 27 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 348
PREM19/1012 Education (Policy on education expenditure; raising standards in schools) (Part 3) Begins: 1982 Jul 5 Ends: 1983 Dec 19 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 348
PREM19/3076 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 23) Begins: 1990 Aug 13 Ends: 1990 Aug 19 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 15 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 349
PREM19/1251 Government machinery (Promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste: the Scrutiny Programme) (Part 15) Begins: 1984 Mar 1 Ends: 1984 Jul 30 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 349
PREM19/991 Economic policy (Strategy) (Part 21) Begins: 1983 Jan 21 Ends: 1983 Feb 7 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 350
PREM19/1644 South Africa (Internal situation: relations with UK) (Part 7) Begins: 1985 Oct 1 Ends: 1985 Oct 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 351
PREM19/2239 Housing (Housing policy) (Part 13) Begins: 1988 Aug 5 Ends: 1988 Dec 22 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret and Personal Pages: 351
PREM19/1461 Economic policy (Financial services: position of Stock Exchange, including future changes to structure and membership; Gower Report on Investor Protection; securities regulation; commercial fraud) (Part 1) Begins: 1983 Nov 24 Ends: 1985 Sep 18 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 351
PREM19/969 Commonwealth (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Delhi, November 1983: policy) (Part 5) Begins: 1983 Jul 25 Ends: 1983 Nov 18 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret Pages: 352
PREM19/2315 Manpower (Special employment measures: employment and training programmes and organisation) (Part 15) Begins: 1986 Nov 4 Ends: 1987 Apr 28 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Pages: 352
PREM19/2766 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 15) Begins: 1989 Oct 2 Ends: 1989 Dec 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 352
PREM19/2257 Industrial Policy (Future of the Rover Group) (Part 15) Begins: 1988 Mar 1 Ends: 1988 Dec 23 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Named Distribution Only Pages: 353
PREM19/3460 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): implementation of NHS reforms) (Part 25) Begins: 1990 Jun 1 Ends: 1990 Dec 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 353
PREM19/1087 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 10) Begins: 1982 Apr 22 Ends: 1983 Jan 31 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 353

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