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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
PREM19/152 Civil Service (Long-term management and manpower policy: efficiency of central government; Civil Service manpower; Sir Derek Rayner’s recommendations for reforms) (Part 6) Begins: 1980 Oct 1 Ends: 1980 Nov 14 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 182
PREM19/374 Sport (UK participation in Moscow Olympic Games following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Jan 8 Ends: 1980 Mar 6 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 251
PREM19/337 Prime Minister (Meeting with delegation from Kingston upon Hull on 24 April 1980 to discuss problems of the fishing industry) Begins: 1980 Apr 1 Ends: 1980 May 1 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Restricted Pages: 75
PREM19/215 European Policy (Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)) (Part 3) Begins: 1980 Feb 5 Ends: 1980 Mar 10 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 116
PREM19/308 Nationalised Industries (British Steel Corporation; industrial action by steel unions; contingency planning) (Part 3) Begins: 1980 Jan 8 Ends: 1980 Jan 22 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 319
PREM19/183 Economic policy (Prime Minister’s meetings with Gordon Pepper) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 16 Ends: 1980 Mar 31 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 202
PREM19/276 Iran (Internal situation: relations with USA and UK following hostage taking at US embassy, Tehran; US mission to release hostages; sanctions) (Part 6) Begins: 1980 Apr 9 Ends: 1980 Apr 30 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 244
PREM19/153 Civil Service (Civil Service manpower: action to reduce size of Civil Service and staff costs) (Part 3) Begins: 1980 Jan 3 Ends: 1980 Mar 5 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 142
PREM19/375 Sport (UK participation in Moscow Olympic Games following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Mar 6 Ends: 1980 Apr 30 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 201
PREM19/244 Government Machinery (Promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste: the scrutiny programme) (Part 6) Begins: 1980 Jun 5 Ends: 1980 Nov 24 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 243
PREM19/338 Prime Minister (Meeting with Sir Horace Cutler to discuss Greater London Council (GLC) matters, December 1979) Begins: 1979 Oct 31 Ends: 1980 Mar 18 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 63
PREM19/216 European Policy (Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)) (Part 4) Begins: 1980 Mar 12 Ends: 1980 Apr 30 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 145
PREM19/309 Nationalised Industries (British Steel Corporation; industrial action by steel unions; contingency planning) (Part 4) Begins: 1980 Jan 22 Ends: 1980 Feb 15 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 207
PREM19/184 Economic policy (The Brandt Commission: report on international development issues; proposal for a North/South summit meeting) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Oct 26 Ends: 1980 Nov 18 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 217
PREM19/277 Iran (Internal situation: relations with USA and UK following hostage taking at US embassy, Tehran; sanctions) (Part 7) Begins: 1980 May 1 Ends: 1980 May 27 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 257

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