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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 ascending
PREM19/4455 Spain (Visit by Spanish leader of the Opposition, Felipe Gonzalez and his successor, Jose Maria Aznar) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Feb 2 Ends: 1993 May 18 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3918 Royal Family (Marriage of Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer) Begins: 1981 Jan 1 Ends: 1992 Jun 24 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2978 European Policy (Proposal for a Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean) Begins: 1990 Oct 8 Ends: 1990 Oct 19 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2149 European Policy (Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)) (Part 17) Begins: 1987 Apr 3 Ends: 1987 Sep 30 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1629 Security (Possible penetration of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Confidential communications) Begins: 1982 Mar 4 Ends: 1985 Dec 6 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4128 European Policy (Invitations for the Prime Minister to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg) Begins: 1980 Sep 30 Ends: 1993 Nov 15 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2809 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings and correspondence with Jack Peel (Director of Industrial Relations at the European Commission until March 1981)) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Jan 1 Ends: 1989 Sep 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1991 Transport (Channel Fixed Link (Channel Tunnel); Euroroute) (Part 4) Begins: 1985 Jan 2 Ends: 1986 Jan 31 Date of release: 2015 Dec 30
PREM19/2784 Nationalised Industry (Gas and electricity pricing policy: privatisation of the electricity supply industry; nuclear power) (Part 17) Begins: 1989 Sep 7 Ends: 1989 Dec 22 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/1988 Trade (Inward investment; review of overseas promotion) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Feb 17 Ends: 1986 Jul 17 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2667 European Policy (European Council meeting, Madrid, June 1989) (Part 34) Begins: 1989 Jun 27 Ends: 1989 Jul 17 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1129 Security (Publication of book containing accounts of National Security Agency) Begins: 1982 Mar 14 Ends: 1983 May 5 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/1997 USA (Visits to UK by Vice President George Bush; discussions on extraterritoriality and terrorism) Begins: 1981 Jun 11 Ends: 1985 Jul 3 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily retained by department
PREM19/2513 Security (Case of Michael Bettaney and the ensuing review of the Security Service) Begins: 1986 Jun 2 Ends: 1988 Nov 8 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1727 Education (Training: White Paper on vocational education and training for jobs; extension of technical and vocational education; proposed National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ)) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Jan 3 Ends: 1986 Jun 30 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30