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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
PREM19/911 Security (Provisional IRA: acquisition of weapons) Begins: 1982 Aug 26 Ends: 1982 Sep 7 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/912 Security ('Doomsday Minus Four' by Larry Clark) Begins: 1982 Jan 14 Ends: 1982 Jan 15 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/1131 Security (Evacuation from Iran) Begins: 1982 Jul 1 Ends: 1983 Mar 1 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/1135 Security (Irish Republican Socialist Party) Begins: 1983 Oct 13 Ends: 1983 Nov 7 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/1136 Security (Case of Geoffrey Prime, former member of Government Communications Headquarters) Begins: 1982 Jun 3 Ends: 1983 Jun 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/980 Defence (Nuclear release procedures; understandings between the USA and UK on use of nuclear weapons and bases; Anglo/German defence understanding) (Part 3) Begins: 1982 Feb 26 Ends: 1983 Mar 4 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/1447 Defence (UK Strategic Nuclear Deterrent) (Part 6) Begins: 1982 Dec 16 Ends: 1985 Jan 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/918 Security (Activities of Leo Long) Begins: 1981 Nov 2 Ends: 1982 Mar 23 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/1139 South Africa (Prime Minister's talk with Tiny Rowland, Chief Executive of Lonrho, about Namibia and Angola) Begins: 1982 Jan 29 Ends: 1982 Feb 25 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/1170 Argentina (Falklands: sensitive briefing - defence after repossession) (Part 13) Begins: 1983 Mar 18 Ends: 1984 Jan 23 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/954 Argentina (Falklands: sensitive briefing - defence after repossession) (Part 12) Begins: 1982 Dec 27 Ends: 1983 Mar 12 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/660 Argentina (Falklands) Begins: 1982 Apr 8 Ends: 1982 Apr 12 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4. Reconsideration in 2022 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/3538 Security ​​​​​​​(Security of the Prime Minister's official country residence, Chequers)​​​​​​​ (Part 5) Begins: 1988 Feb 3 Ends: 1991 Jun 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3259 Defence (Biological and chemical weapons: policy and export controls) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Jan 1 Ends: 1991 May 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3537 Security ​​​​​​​(Ministerial protection (personal): security arrangements for the overnight policing of Ministers' cars; VIP security)​​​​​​​ (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Oct 2 Ends: 1991 Jul 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4

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