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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
PREM19/2199 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
PREM19/2753 Japan (Prime Minister's visit to Japan, September 1989) (Part 3a) Begins: 1989 Apr 27 Ends: 1989 Sep 15 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2531 Soviet Union (Policy towards the Soviet Union) (Part 1) Begins: 1987 Aug 1 Ends: 1987 Sep 8 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2490 Security (Intelligence Co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office: proposed appointment of the Sir Anthony Duff and his successors) Begins: 1980 Jun 18 Ends: 1988 Oct 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2579 Economic Policy (Inquiry into Barlow Clowes Group) Begins: 1988 Jun 13 Ends: 1988 Sep 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2211 Greece (UK/Greek relations) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 May 1 Ends: 1987 Mar 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2533 Soviet Union (Soviet intentions towards Iran) Begins: 1980 Apr 16 Ends: 1987 Sep 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2491 Security (Terrorist activity and extremism in Great Britain) (Part 3) Begins: 1986 Jun 3 Ends: 1987 Sep 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2068 Defence (Military uses of laser technology in space: United States Strategic Defence Initiative) (Part 4) Begins: 1985 Dec 4 Ends: 1987 Oct 2 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2222 Home Affairs (Monopolies and Mergers Commission Report on proposed takeover of House of Fraser by Lonrho) Begins: 1987 Jan 12 Ends: 1987 Oct 28 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Closed for 40 years
PREM19/2492 Security (Terrorist activity and extremism in Great Britain, including threat to UK nuclear facilities and nuclear materials) (Part 4) Begins: 1987 Oct 19 Ends: 1988 Sep 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2069 Defence (Nuclear release procedures) (Part 4) Begins: 1983 Mar 1 Ends: 1987 Oct 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2223 Home Affairs (Parole position of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady) Begins: 1985 Feb 19 Ends: 1987 Mar 24 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2493 Security (Links between Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and other terrorist organisations: People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine operations in London) Begins: 1979 Sep 28 Ends: 1988 Mar 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2536 Soviet Union (Soviet visa applications) Begins: 1979 Jun 13 Ends: 1987 Jan 12 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department

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