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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
PREM19/31 Economic policy (Privatization) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 4 Ends: 1979 Jul 20 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 189
PREM19/129 Vietnam (Vietnamese boat people) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 24 Ends: 1979 Jun 14 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 309
PREM19/96 Nationalized industries (Shipbuilding) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 4 Ends: 1979 Nov 29 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 121
PREM19/64 Government machinery (Judges' expenses) Begins: 1979 Oct 19 Ends: 1979 Oct 30 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 10
PREM19/32 Economic policy (Privatization) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jul 23 Ends: 1979 Dec 19 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 115
PREM19/130 Vietnam (Vietnamese boat people) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jun 15 Ends: 1979 Jul 19 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 304
PREM19/97 Nationalized industries (Steel) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1979 Nov 12 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 133
PREM19/65 Greece (PM Karamanlis visit to UK, Oct 1979) Begins: 1979 Sep 5 Ends: 1979 Oct 23 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 56
PREM19/33 Economic policy (Domestic monetary policy) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1979 Jul 25 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 208
PREM19/131 Zaire (Call on MT by Foreign Minister of) Begins: 1979 Nov 11 Ends: 1979 Nov 13 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 23
PREM19/98 Nationalized industries (British Rail - cutback in fuel supplies) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1979 Jun 7 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 15
PREM19/99 Pakistan (Sale of cargo ships to Pakistan by British Shipbuilders) Begins: 1979 Jul 27 Ends: 1979 Aug 23 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 15
PREM19/66 Home affairs (Sale of Isle of Iona) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1979 Jun 7 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 12
PREM19/34 Economic policy (Domestic monetary policy) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Sep 7 Ends: 1979 Dec 20 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 245
PREM19/100 Parliament (Legislative programme) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 5 Ends: 1979 Jul 6 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 127

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