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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
PREM19/3526 Security ​​​​​​​(Policy on interception of communications)​​​​​​​ (Part 6) Begins: 1986 Nov 27 Ends: 1988 Mar 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3939 Security (Operational file) Begins: 1990 Mar 15 Ends: 1992 Sep 18 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3936 Security (Intelligence Agencies (MI5 and MI6): meetings, visits, appointments)(Part 2) Begins: 1989 Feb 14 Ends: 1992 Dec 21 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3601 Foreign Policy​​​​​​​ (Summary notes on Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) Assessments) (Part 3) Begins: 1988 Jan 8 Ends: 1989 Jul 27 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3934 Security (Appointment of successors to the Director General of the Secret Intelligence Service and Director General of the Security Service: Prime Minister's visit to the Security Service; Security Service accommodation)(Part 2) Begins: 1990 Jul 1 Ends: 1992 Jul 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3555 Soviet Union ​​​​​​​(UK/Soviet relations: internal situation)​​​​​​​ (Part 18) Begins: 1990 Sep 3 Ends: 1990 Nov 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3549 Soviet Union ​​​​​​​(Trade relations: controls on strategic exports)​​​​​​​ (Part 4) Begins: 1986 Dec 1 Ends: 1991 Jan 28 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3588 USA ​​​​​​​(Visit of William Casey, Director of Central Intelligence in Washington, and his successors)​​​​​​​ Begins: 1981 Feb 12 Ends: 1991 Nov 25 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3261 Defence (Intelligence gathering operations) (Part 5) Begins: 1989 Jul 1 Ends: 1991 Oct 24 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
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
PREM19/3537 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
PREM19/3584 United Nations (Visits to UK by UN Secretary-General, Javier Perez de Cuellar) (Part 3) Begins: 1988 Nov 1 Ends: 1991 Jan 30 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
PREM19/3536 Security ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's comments on codeword documents)​​​​​​​ Begins: 1979 Jun 21 Ends: 1991 Feb 10 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3421 Lebanon (Internal situation: UK/Lebanese relations) (Part 9) Begins: 1989 Aug 1 Ends: 1991 Jul 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4

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