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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
PREM19/2273 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
PREM19/2548 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
PREM19/2274 Ireland (Meetings with the Taoiseach: Anglo-Irish Summits; Anglo-Irish relations) (Part 19) Begins: 1988 May 3 Ends: 1988 Dec 21 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
PREM19/586 Security (Case of Howard Marks) Begins: 1979 Jul 4 Ends: 1981 Nov 24 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2136 Energy (Energy policy: nuclear power; revision of report by Advisory Council on Science and Technology (ACOST) on industrial impact of Sizewell 'B' decision; extension of Joint European Torus (JET) project on nuclear fusion; disposal of UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) shareholding in National Nuclear Corporation; fast reactor programme) (Part 12) Begins: 1987 Dec 1 Ends: 1988 May 24 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2506 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 7) Begins: 1987 Apr 3 Ends: 1987 Jun 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/899 Royal family (Civil List) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 7 Ends: 1982 Mar 23 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown
PREM19/1241 France (State visit to UK by President Mitterrand, October 1984) (Part 4) Begins: 1984 Mar 1 Ends: 1984 Nov 2 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained
PREM19/2467 Regional Policy (London Docklands Development Corporation: dismissal of John Mills as deputy chairman) Begins: 1985 Jul 18 Ends: 1987 Dec 10 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Closed for 51 years
PREM19/2275 Ireland (Prime Minister's visits to Northern Ireland) (Part 4) Begins: 1985 Nov 6 Ends: 1988 Jan 27 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2552 Trade (UK's international trade policies: non-tariff barriers and restraints on imports; consideration of export problems; recycling of OPEC surpluses) (Part 5) Begins: 1985 Jul 1 Ends: 1987 Jan 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department

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