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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
PREM19/4873 Parliament (The Speaker's overseas travel plans) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jul 31 Ends: 1994 Mar 24 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
PREM19/2538 Soviet Union (UK/Soviet relations; internal situation) (Part 6) Begins: 1986 Jun 2 Ends: 1987 Jan 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/1592 Papua New Guinea (Visits to UK by Prime Ministers Sir Julius Chan, May 1981, and Michael Somare, April 1985: meetings with Prime Minister) Begins: 1981 Apr 2 Ends: 1985 Apr 24 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4010 Bahamas (Internal situation/relations) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Jun 16 Ends: 1993 Feb 2 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2277 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland: force levels) (Part 23) Begins: 1987 Nov 1 Ends: 1988 Mar 31 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/1020 European policy (European Community budget) (Part 19) Begins: 1982 Nov 4 Ends: 1983 Jan 31 Date of release: 2019 Jan 1 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/3002 Germany (Internal situation in East Germany: policy towards German reunification) (Part 5) Begins: 1990 Sep 5 Ends: 1990 Nov 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
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
PREM19/2877 Thailand (UK/Thailand relations: visits to UK by Prime Minister, General Prem Tinsulanonda) Begins: 1982 Mar 16 Ends: 1989 Dec 7 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2896 Disasters (Fire at King's Cross Underground Station, 18 November 1989) Begins: 1987 Nov 19 Ends: 1989 Jul 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/4363 Prime Minister (Request from Mr Seymour Reich, President of B'nai B'rith International, for a meeting with the Prime Minister: Middle East peace process and Soviet Jewry) Begins: 1989 Jul 31 Ends: 1992 Nov 10 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2075 Disasters (Sinking of Townsend Thoresen ferry Herald of Free Enterprise at Zeebrugge, 6 March 1987) Begins: 1987 Mar 6 Ends: 1988 Feb 9 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 6
PREM19/2718 Home Affairs (Government support for voluntary bodies) (Part 1) Begins: 1985 Mar 11 Ends: 1989 Jul 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/4737 Home Affairs (Juvenile offenders) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Jun 2 Ends: 1994 Jan 31 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28