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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
PREM19/2109 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Toronto: Prime Minister's Personal Representative for Economic Summits; briefing for third meeting of Personal Representatives ('Sherpas'), Paris, May 1988) (Part 2) Begins: 1988 Mar 1 Ends: 1988 May 31 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Confidential Pages: 364
PREM19/1370 Science and technology (Prime Minister’s seminar on science, technology, and industry, September 1983) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Dec 22 Ends: 1984 Feb 2 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 364
PREM19/3314 European Policy (European Convention on Human Rights: Prime Minister's visit to Paris for Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) Summit, November 1990) (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Oct 4 Ends: 1990 Dec 17 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 365
PREM19/1297 Lebanon (Internal situation; Multinational Force (MNF) in Lebanon; UK/Lebanese relations) (Part 6) Begins: 1983 Dec 30 Ends: 1984 Feb 27 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 365
PREM19/3880 Parliament (Review of electoral law and procedures: Representation of the People Bills) Begins: 1981 Nov 11 Ends: 1992 Mar 12 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 365
PREM19/3589 USA (Internal political situation: 1988 Presidential election campaign)​​​​​​​ (Part 3) Begins: 1988 Nov 1 Ends: 1991 Jan 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 365
PREM19/1548 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 19) Begins: 1984 Dec 31 Ends: 1985 Mar 28 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Top Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 366
PREM19/1498 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to South-East Asia, April 1985) (Part 2) Begins: 1985 Apr 5 Ends: 1985 Jul 27 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 14 File classification: Secret Pages: 367
PREM19/2546 Soviet Union (Visits to UK by President Gorbachev) (Part 2) Begins: 1988 Nov 10 Ends: 1988 Dec 29 Date of release: Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 368
PREM19/3372 Government Machinery (Review of Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA): Government Telecommunications Service) Begins: 1984 Jan 1 Ends: 1991 Jan 7 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Confidential Pages: 368
PREM19/2339 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): NHS Review) (Part 13) Begins: 1988 Jun 1 Ends: 1988 Jun 29 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Pages: 368
PREM19/627 Argentina (Falklands) (Part 16) Begins: 1982 May 11 Ends: 1982 May 14 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 368
PREM19/1174 Civil service (Long-term management and manpower policy; Civil Service manpower; personnel work in Civil Service; the extension of unified grading; equal opportunities) (Part 14) Begins: 1983 Oct 3 Ends: 1984 Jan 25 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 368
PREM19/1207 Economic policy (G7 Summit - London) (Part 15) Begins: 1984 Mar 2 Ends: 1984 May 21 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Secret Pages: 368
PREM19/1095 Nationalised industries (Prospects for the steel industry; plant closures; future of Ian MacGregor, chairman of British Steel Corporation (BSC)) (Part 12) Begins: 1982 Dec 1 Ends: 1983 Jun 30 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 368

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