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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
PREM19/2681 Foreign Policy (Allegations concerning war criminals: War Crimes Inquiry) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Jun 30 Ends: 1989 Dec 22 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1473 Egypt (Visits to UK by President Mubarak by Foreign Minister Ismat Abdel Meguid: meetings with Prime Minister) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Dec 12 Ends: 1985 Dec 18 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3660 Downing Street (Physical security aspects of Downing Street) (Part 7) Begins: 1988 Apr 5 Ends: 1992 Jul 2 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/1853 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): Value for Money seminars; NHS Management Board) (Part 5) Begins: 1985 Apr 1 Ends: 1986 May 30 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2533 Soviet Union (Soviet intentions towards Iran) Begins: 1980 Apr 16 Ends: 1987 Sep 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/586 Security (Case of Howard Marks) Begins: 1979 Jul 4 Ends: 1981 Nov 24 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/4872 Parliament (Prime Minister's meeting with the Speaker of House of Commons) (Part 1) Begins: 1983 Nov 14 Ends: 1994 Mar 7 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3021 Home Affairs (Civil disorder) (Part 4) Begins: 1988 Jun 21 Ends: 1990 Dec 4 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2272 Ireland (Meetings with the Taoiseach: Anglo-Irish Summits; Anglo-Irish relations) (Part 17) Begins: 1987 Feb 4 Ends: 1987 Nov 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/4242 India (Foreign policy: internal situation; re-election of Mrs Gandhi; aid to India; Indo-Soviet relations; Indo-Pakistan relations) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Jun 1 Ends: 1993 Apr 23 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3386 Hong Kong (Future of Hong Kong) (Part 24) Begins: 1990 Apr 1 Ends: 1991 Mar 28 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2883 Trade (Consumer safety) Begins: 1984 Feb 6 Ends: 1989 May 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2062 Defence (Future role of SAS) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Dec 1 Ends: 1987 Apr 8 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1570 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 12) Begins: 1984 Jan 5 Ends: 1985 May 31 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily retained
PREM19/2614 Defence (Military uses of laser technology in space: United States Strategic Defence Initiative) (Part 5) Begins: 1987 Oct 2 Ends: 1989 Jan 16 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20