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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
PREM19/2324 Middle East (Weapons development) Begins: 1987 Aug 6 Ends: 1987 Aug 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/4328 Nationalised Industries (Shipbuilding policy) (Part 16) Begins: 1989 Dec 18 Ends: 1993 Jan 20 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3078 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 25) Begins: 1990 Aug 24 Ends: 1990 Aug 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained under Sec 3.4 (reconsideration in 2027)
PREM19/2905 Agriculture (Salmonella and eggs) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Apr 6 Ends: 1990 Nov 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2078 Drugs (Drugs misuse: Visit to South America by David Mellor, Minister of State at the Home Office; cooperation between Police and Customs) (Part 3) Begins: 1985 Oct 2 Ends: 1987 May 15 Date of release: 2015 Dec 30
PREM19/2081 Economic Policy (Contracting-out terms for occupational pension schemes 1983-1988) Begins: 1982 Feb 17 Ends: 1985 Sep 1 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1845 Defence (Defence Budget) (Part 11) Begins: 1984 Apr 16 Ends: 1985 May 21 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2931 Defence (Defence sales) (Part 12) Begins: 1989 Mar 3 Ends: 1990 Feb 27 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2583 Aerospace (Westland Helicopters) (Part 7) Begins: 1987 Feb 2 Ends: 1989 Jun 12 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1766 Gibraltar (Policy towards Gibraltar: discussions with Spanish under Lisbon and Brussels Agreements) (Part 5) Begins: 1984 Apr 6 Ends: 1986 Oct 24 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4573 Bahrain (UK/Bahraini relations) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Sep 11 Ends: 1993 Dec 19 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2397 Prime Minister (Request by Electronic Data Systems to employ Mark Thatcher) Begins: 1987 Feb 1 Ends: 1987 Feb 23 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/1686 Civil Service (Property Services Agency (PSA) restructuring: report by Sir Geoffrey Wardale on fraud in the PSA) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Jul 22 Ends: 1986 Aug 5 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4818 Luxembourg (UK/Luxembourg relations: internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jul 1 Ends: 1994 Oct 6 Date of release: 2019 Feb 6
PREM19/3981 USA (Visit to the UK by George Shultz, US Secretary of State) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Dec 1 Ends: 1992 May 25 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department