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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
PREM19/979 Defence (Modernisation of Theatre Nuclear Forces (TNF) in Europe; proposed basing of United States Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM) in the UK; Geneva talks on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF)) (Part 3) Begins: 1982 Oct 20 Ends: 1983 Sep 21 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 353
PREM19/1224 European policy (Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)) (Part 12) Begins: 1983 Dec 1 Ends: 1984 Dec 20 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 354
PREM19/2775 National Health (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Jan 14 Ends: 1989 Dec 15 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 354
PREM19/1395 Sri Lanka (Internal situation; UK/Sri Lankan relations; aid to Sri Lanka) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1984 Oct 22 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 354
PREM19/1721 Economic policy (The 1986 Budget) (Part 15) Begins: 1986 Feb 5 Ends: 1986 Apr 24 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Budget Secret Pages: 354
PREM19/1160 Manpower (Measures to counter unemployment; annexes to report by Professor Patrick Minford, 'UK unemployment - analysis and policy proposals') (Part 8C) Begins: 1982 Sep 6 Ends: 1983 Jan 29 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 355
PREM19/1016 Energy (North Sea oil prices; heavy fuel oil prices; oil prices in the longer term) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Jan 30 Ends: 1983 Jun 23 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 355
PREM19/2778 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): community care) (Part 20) Begins: 1989 Mar 2 Ends: 1989 Apr 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 355
PREM19/971 Cyprus (Internal situation; UK/Cypriot relations) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Feb 29 Ends: 1983 Nov 29 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 355
PREM19/110 Rhodesia (Situation in) (Part 5) Begins: 1979 Aug 9 Ends: 1979 Aug 30 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 355
PREM19/2376 Parliament (House of Commons procedure: Select Committees) (Part 8) Begins: 1986 Jul 3 Ends: 1987 Jan 28 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Confidential Pages: 355
PREM19/2764 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 13) Begins: 1989 Jun 1 Ends: 1989 Jul 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 355
PREM19/3422 Local Government (Future of the rating system: rating revaluation; Community Charge) (Part 21) Begins: 1990 Nov 1 Ends: 1990 Dec 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 356
PREM19/2194 Government Machinery (Monopolies and mergers) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Mar 3 Ends: 1988 Feb 29 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Confidential Pages: 356
PREM19/2856 Social Services (Uprating of social security benefits) (Part 4) Begins: 1987 May 6 Ends: 1989 Sep 29 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 356

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