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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 ascending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/256 Housing (Housing policy; the Housing Bill; council house sales) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 22 Ends: 1980 Jul 31 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 117
PREM19/349 Rhodesia (Constitutional Conference, Lancaster House, London, Sept-Dec 1979: proceedings & conference papers, CC (79) 11-40) Begins: 1979 Sep 14 Ends: 1979 Oct 26 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Restricted Pages: 269
PREM19/227 European Policy (European Community budget) (Part 9) Begins: 1980 Jun 4 Ends: 1980 Sep 19 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 196
PREM19/320 Pakistan (Visit to UK by Agha Shahi, Foreign Minister, June 1980: meeting with Prime Minister) Begins: 1980 Jun 12 Ends: 1980 Jun 19 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 70
PREM19/195 Economic policy (Possible changes in the taxation of bank profits) Begins: 1979 Nov 14 Ends: 1980 Mar 20 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 61
PREM19/288 Liberia (Visit to UK by President Tolbert, December 1979: meeting with Prime Minister) Begins: 1979 Jun 13 Ends: 1980 Mar 5 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 141
PREM19/289 Local Government (Relations with central government, organisation & finance) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Nov 15 Ends: 1980 Feb 26 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 110
PREM19/164 Economic policy (Public Spending) (Part 7) Begins: 1980 Jan 25 Ends: 1980 Oct 16 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 178
PREM19/257 India (Call on Prime Minister by Swraj Paul, Vice Chairman, Indo/British Association, July 1980; Indo-British exchange conference) Begins: 1980 Jun 18 Ends: 1980 Jul 16 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 26
PREM19/134 Afghanistan (Soviet invasion) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Dec 17 Ends: 1980 Jan 6 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 280
PREM19/350 Rhodesia (Constitutional Conference, Lancaster House, London, Sept-Dec 1979: proceedings & conference papers, CC (79) 41-79) Begins: 1979 Oct 27 Ends: 1979 Nov 16 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Restricted Pages: 324
PREM19/228 European Policy (Prime Minister’s meetings with President of European Commission, Roy Jenkins) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1980 Nov 4 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 192
PREM19/321 Parliament (Defence Committee inquiry into Polaris successor systems) Begins: 1980 May 9 Ends: 1980 Oct 17 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 14
PREM19/196 Economic policy (Liability to tax of UK resident beneficiaries of overseas trusts: the Vestey case, November 1979) Begins: 1980 Oct 7 Ends: 1980 Nov 21 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 20
PREM19/290 Local Government (Relations with central government, organisation & finance) (Part 3) Begins: 1980 Feb 28 Ends: 1980 Sep 27 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 205

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