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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
PREM19/3319 European Policy (European Council meeting, Luxembourg, June 1991) (Part 38A) Begins: 1990 Apr 27 Ends: 1991 Jun 16 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Confidential Pages: 384
PREM19/3205 USA (Economic Situation) (Part 4) Begins: 1987 Apr 27 Ends: 1990 Jan 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 384
PREM19/3026 Home Affairs (Report of the Committee on Restrictions Against Disabled People; social security benefits and employment and training services for disabled people) Begins: 1982 May 7 Ends: 1990 Jun 27 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 384
PREM19/2708 Government Machinery (Rayner Scrutiny programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste; value for money seminars; Next Steps initiative) (Part 31) Begins: 1989 Jul 3 Ends: 1989 Oct 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 384
PREM19/2337 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): NHS Review; Community Care Review) (Part 11) Begins: 1988 Mar 1 Ends: 1988 Apr 29 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Pages: 385
PREM19/1705 Economic policy (Economic strategy: pay and prices; economic statistics) (Part 26) Begins: 1984 Mar 15 Ends: 1985 Dec 16 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 385
PREM19/3306 Environmental Affairs (Environmental pollution: climate change; Environment White Paper) (Part 18) Begins: 1990 Sep 14 Ends: 1991 May 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 385
PREM19/1529 Home affairs (Football hooliganism: behaviour of British football fans abroad; interim report of Popplewell Inquiry into crowd safety and control at sports grounds) (Part 4) Begins: 1985 Jul 3 Ends: 1985 Jul 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 385
PREM19/398 Canada (UK/Canadian relations: patriation of the Canadian constitution) (Part 3) Begins: 1981 Mar 2 Ends: 1981 Oct 23 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 386
PREM19/1042 Government machinery (Promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste: the Rayner Scrutiny Programme 1982/83) (Part 13) Begins: 1982 Nov 2 Ends: 1983 Feb 28 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 386
PREM19/3243 Commonwealth (High level review of the role of the Commonwealth: dates for Heads of Government meeting) Begins: 1990 Jun 5 Ends: 1991 Aug 20 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 386
PREM19/1433 Cyprus (Visits to the UK by President Kyprianou: meetings with Prime Minister) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Dec 10 Ends: 1985 Jan 14 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 386
PREM19/1665 Aerospace (Future and structure of British Airways: settlement of litigation concerning the collapse of Laker Airways; airports policy; USA/UK future aviation strategy; economic regulation of airports; competition regime for UK/US aviation) (Part 4) Begins: 1985 May 3 Ends: 1986 Jan 24 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 387
PREM19/1706 Economic policy (International finance: indebtedness and effect on Western banking system; British exposure) (Part 5) Begins: 1985 Jan 1 Ends: 1986 Feb 5 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 387
PREM19/1723 Education (General policy on education and education expenditure: biased teaching and political indoctrination in schools and colleges; University funding) (Part 7) Begins: 1986 May 6 Ends: 1986 May 30 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 387

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