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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
PREM19/684 Defence (Special project) Begins: 1980 May 9 Ends: 1982 Nov 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/4870 Papua New Guinea (Relations) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Mar 21 Ends: 1994 Dec 30 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3947 Security (Review of the use of vetting) Begins: 1979 Nov 21 Ends: 1992 Sep 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/2964 Environmental Affairs (North Sea Conference) Begins: 1984 Oct 31 Ends: 1990 Jul 4 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/4053 Defence ( Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve Forces: report of the Review Body on Armed Forces; pay on Bounties for the Reserve Forces; mobilisation of Reserves; reinforcement plan) Begins: 1979 Jul 4 Ends: 1993 Aug 5 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2782 National Health (Outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Staffordshire: Stafford Hospital Inquiry) Begins: 1988 May 20 Ends: 1989 Jul 18 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1920 Regional Policy (Inner city policy: regeneration of Liverpool and London; Docklands Urban Development Corporation; Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission on Urban Priority Areas) (Part 7) Begins: 1985 Aug 8 Ends: 1986 Jan 31 Date of release: 2015 Dec 30
PREM19/2820 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Morocco, Nigeria and Southern Africa, March-April 1989: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1989 Mar 20 Ends: 1989 Jul 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3584 United Nations (Visits to UK by UN Secretary-General, Javier Perez de Cuellar) (Part 3) Begins: 1988 Nov 1 Ends: 1991 Jan 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained under Sec 3.4
PREM19/4332 NATO (NATO Ministerial meetings) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Jun 1 Ends: 1993 Jun 10 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2502 Security (Security and protection of the Prime Minister) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Feb 3 Ends: 1987 Jan 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/4494 Uruguay (UK/ Uruguay relations: internal situation) Begins: 1981 Aug 24 Ends: 1993 Jun 28 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3892 Prime Minister (Demise of a Prime Minister in office) Begins: 1989 Jan 31 Ends: 1992 Oct 27 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/1633 Security (Soviet funding of National Union of Mineworkers (NUM): information from Sir Bernard Braine MP) Begins: 1984 Oct 10 Ends: 1985 Mar 6 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4169 Government Buildings (Allocation of official residences) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 7 Ends: 1993 May 28 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24