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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 releasesort descending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/2545 Soviet Union (Visits to UK by President Gorbachev) (Part 1) Begins: 1987 Nov 20 Ends: 1988 Oct 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2133 Elections (Election procedure) (Part 3) Begins: 1987 May 13 Ends: 1988 Mar 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2503 Security (Case of Geoffrey Arthur Prime) Begins: 1983 Jul 1 Ends: 1987 Aug 11 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/372 Soviet Union (Political and propaganda use made by USSR of Moscow Olympic Games) Begins: 1980 Apr 22 Ends: 1980 Apr 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown
PREM19/2396 Prime Minister (Cementation contract: Mark Thatcher and the Omanis) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Jan 15 Ends: 1988 Mar 19 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Closed for 65 years
PREM19/2504 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 5) Begins: 1987 Jan 8 Ends: 1987 Mar 12 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/607 Defence (Nuclear release procedures; understandings between the USA and UK on use of nuclear weapons and bases) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Apr 29 Ends: 1981 Mar 9 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown
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
PREM19/2272 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
PREM19/2548 Syria (Internal situation: military capability; UK/Syrian relations) Begins: 1980 Mar 14 Ends: 1988 Oct 25 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2135 Energy (Energy policy: nuclear power; Layfield report on new Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR), Sizewell 'B'; doctrine of collective responsibility aspect of Energy Secretary's decision to accept Layfield recommendation; study by Advisory Council on Applied Research and Development (ACARD) on UK future nuclear reactor programme) (Part 11) Begins: 1987 Feb 4 Ends: 1987 Nov 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2505 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 6) Begins: 1987 Mar 13 Ends: 1987 Mar 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/787 Hong Kong (Intelligence operations) Begins: 1982 Sep 1 Ends: 1982 Sep 10 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2273 Ireland (Meetings with the Taoiseach: Anglo-Irish Summits; Anglo-Irish relations) (Part 18) Begins: 1987 Nov 18 Ends: 1987 Apr 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2549 Syria (Internal situation: UK/Syrian relations; Syrian involvement in the Hindawi affair and other terrorist activities; diplomatic and commercial measures by UK, USA, Canada, and European Community states) Begins: 1979 May 7 Ends: 1987 Jul 27 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department

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