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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
PREM19/2796 Parliament (Boundary Commission reviews of Parliamentary constituencies in Wales and the UK) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Jul 11 Ends: 1989 Jan 18 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2797 Philippines (Proposed state visit by President Marcos: possible visit of President Aquino) Begins: 1983 Feb 7 Ends: 1989 Dec 13 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/1983 Trade (Government purchasing policy and the 'Buy British' policy; Prime Minister's 'Better Made in Britain' seminar, 25 February 1986) (Part 3) Begins: 1986 Feb 3 Ends: 1986 Mar 20 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2649 Education (Violence and discipline in schools) Begins: 1987 Nov 30 Ends: 1989 Mar 13 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1459 Economic policy (Policy towards privatisation: disposal of public sector assets; contracting out of public sector functions) (Part 11 Begins: 1984 Aug 2 Ends: 1985 Mar 27 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4299 Middle East (Arms sales and military assistance to Middle East countries) (Part 5) Begins: 1990 Nov 1 Ends: 1993 Feb 25 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2378 Parliament (Legislative programme) (Part 16) Begins: 1987 Feb 2 Ends: 1987 Oct 29 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/364 Security (Policy on interception) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Mar 21 Ends: 1980 Apr 11 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown
PREM19/2508 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 9) Begins: 1987 Sep 23 Ends: 1987 Oct 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/4488 Trinidad and Tobago (UK/Trinidad and Tobago relations: internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Nov 13 Ends: 1993 May 27 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2199 Government Machinery (Special advisers; appointment procedure) (Part 3) Begins: 1984 Jan 12 Ends: 1987 Jun 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/4200 Home Affairs (London taxi fares) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1993 Mar 26 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2838 Scotland (Scottish High Court judges: possible homosexual scandal) Begins: 1989 Dec 22 Ends: 1989 Dec 22 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2022 Bermuda (UK/Bermuda relations; meetings with John Swan, Premier of Bermuda) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 May 21 Ends: 1987 Jun 26 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/3549 Soviet Union ​​​​​​​(Trade relations: controls on strategic exports)​​​​​​​ (Part 4) Begins: 1986 Dec 1 Ends: 1991 Jan 28 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4