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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
PREM19/2464 Regional Policy (Inner Cities Initiative: action following report by Eric Sorensen; Ministerial and departmental responsibility for coordination and presentation of policy towards inner cities; Kenneth Clarke, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to assume coordination responsibility; designation of further Urban Development Corporations (UDCs); Canary Wharf development by Olympia & York) (Part 12) Begins: 1987 Dec 1 Ends: 1988 Feb 29 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Confidential Pages: 357
PREM19/1446 Defence (Defence sales) (Part 5) Begins: 1985 Jan 2 Ends: 1985 Oct 25 Date of release: 2015 Jul 16 Any docs withheld? 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 357
PREM19/487 India (Prime Minister's visit to India, April 1981) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Jan 14 Ends: 1981 Apr 19 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 357
PREM19/3211 USA (United States foreign policy: USA/European relations) (Part 3) Begins: 1987 Jan 9 Ends: 1990 Mar 22 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 22 File classification: Top Secret Cab One Pages: 357
PREM19/1037 Germany (Chancellor Helmut Kohl's visits to the UK: meetings with Prime Minister) (Part 7) Begins: 1982 Nov 29 Ends: 1983 May 16 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 357
PREM19/1244 Germany (Anglo-German relations) (Part 2) Begins: 1982 Mar 8 Ends: 1984 Sep 28 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 357
PREM19/1313 Manpower (Measures to counter unemployment; Youth Training Scheme; review of Community Programme) (Part 10) Begins: 1983 Jul 1 Ends: 1984 Oct 31 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 357
PREM19/3478 Prime Minister (MPs' pay and pensions) (Part 7) Begins: 1987 Dec 1 Ends: 1991 Dec 20 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 357
PREM19/1641 South Africa (Internal situation: relations with UK) (Part 4) Begins: 1984 Oct 1 Ends: 1985 Jun 29 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 358
PREM19/1642 South Africa (Internal situation: relations with UK) (Part 5) Begins: 1985 Jul 1 Ends: 1985 Aug 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Confidential Pages: 358
PREM19/3782 Government Machinery (The way forward: the direction of future government policy; medium-term objectives) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1992 Nov 27 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 359
PREM19/1619 Science and Technology (Annual Review of Government-funded Research and Development: maintaining the strength of the science base) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Aug 2 Ends: 1985 Mar 29 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 359
PREM19/1298 Legal procedure (United States anti-trust investigation into allegations of price fixing against British airlines, following collapse of Laker Airways) (Part 1) Begins: 1983 Mar 1 Ends: 1984 Nov 23 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 359
PREM19/3091 Mozambique (Internal situation: aid programme; relations with the UK) Begins: 1979 Aug 2 Ends: 1990 Mar 23 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 8 File classification: Top Secret - Cab One Pages: 360
PREM19/950 Argentina (Falklands) (Part 32) Begins: 1982 Dec 1 Ends: 1983 Mar 2 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 17 File classification: Secret Pages: 360

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