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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
PREM19/3934 Security (Appointment of successors to the Director General of the Secret Intelligence Service and Director General of the Security Service: Prime Minister's visit to the Security Service; Security Service accommodation)(Part 2) Begins: 1990 Jul 1 Ends: 1992 Jul 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/2972 Environmental Affairs (The litter problem in the UK: Environmental Protection Bill) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 May 4 Ends: 1990 Jul 26 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1623 Security (Security of Buckingham Palace grounds: incident on 9 July 1982; review of law of trespass) Begins: 1981 Aug 20 Ends: 1985 May 9 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/4091 Economic Policy (Insolvency law reform) Begins: 1983 Sep 29 Ends: 1993 Apr 26 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2794 Parliament (Legislative programme) (Part 18) Begins: 1988 Sep 30 Ends: 1989 Sep 29 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3579 Treasury ​​​​​​​(Barlow Clowes)​​​​​​​ (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Nov 16 Ends: 1991 Dec 19 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/1982 Trade (Government purchasing policy and the 'Buy British' policy; Prime Minister's 'Better Made in Britain' seminar, 25 February 1986) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Jul 8 Ends: 1986 Jan 30 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/4400 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to World Economic Forum in Davos, 28 January-1 February 1992: includes correspondence on the 1990 annual meeting) Begins: 1990 Sep 10 Ends: 1993 Oct 8 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/363 Security (Policy on interception) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 7 Ends: 1980 Mar 19 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown
PREM19/2507 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 8) Begins: 1987 Jul 2 Ends: 1987 Sep 22 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/4443 Social Sevices (White Paper on the Reform of the Industrial Injuries Scheme) Begins: 1981 Nov 9 Ends: 1993 Mar 29 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3879 Parliament (Queen's Speeches on prorogation and opening of Parliament: televising the proceedings of the House of Commons) (Part 10) Begins: 1980 Aug 1 Ends: 1992 Mar 25 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2993 Foreign Policy (East/West relations) (Part 11) Begins: 1989 Feb 1 Ends: 1990 Jul 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2188 Government Buildings (Refurbishing of Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Jun 1 Ends: 1988 Aug 12 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/4199 Histories (Policy on commemorations of World War One and Two) (Part 1) Begins: 1990 May 31 Ends: 1993 Dec 31 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24

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