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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
PREM19/686 Defence (Intelligence gathering operations) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 8 Ends: 1982 Oct 6 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1371 Security (Irish terrorist activity in Great Britain) (Part 1A) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1982 Aug 11 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2473 Royal Family (The Prince of Wales' Special Projects Unit) Begins: 1987 Jul 29 Ends: 1987 Sep 1 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2280 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 26) Begins: 1988 Oct 1 Ends: 1988 Dec 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1372 Security (Irish terrorist activity in Great Britain; threat to Weston supermarkets) (Part 1B) Begins: 1982 Sep 6 Ends: 1984 Feb 10 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2513 Security (Case of Michael Bettaney and the ensuing review of the Security Service) Begins: 1986 Jun 2 Ends: 1988 Nov 8 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1340 Parliament (Queen's speeches on prorogation and opening of Parliament; televising the State Opening) (Part 5) Begins: 1982 Oct 27 Ends: 1984 Oct 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained
PREM19/2474 Royal Family (Visits by the Queen to security services) Begins: 1980 Nov 4 Ends: 1988 Apr 28 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2796 Parliament (Boundary Commission reviews of Parliamentary constituencies in Wales and the UK) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Jul 11 Ends: 1989 Jan 18 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2159 European Policy (European Council meeting, Brussels, February 1988) (Part 28) Begins: 1988 Jan 21 Ends: 1988 Feb 22 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2160 European Policy (European Council meeting, Hanover, June 1988) (Part 29) Begins: 1988 Apr 1 Ends: 1988 Jun 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2514 Security (Allegations against the Security Service) Begins: 1977 Jul 16 Ends: 1987 Mar 18 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2475 Saudi Arabia (Internal situation: relations with UK) Begins: 1986 May 1 Ends: 1987 Feb 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2058 Defence (Policy on biological and chemical weapons) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1988 Dec 23 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2284 Japan (Anglo-Japanese relations) (Part 6) Begins: 1987 Jan 2 Ends: 1987 Apr 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department

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