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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 namesort descending Title Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3613 Bahrain (Visit to the UK by the Prime Minister of Bahrain, Shaikh Khalifa, September 1980) Begins: 1980 May 2 Ends: 1992 Aug 20 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 140
PREM19/3614 Barbados (Internal situation: UK/Barbados relations) Begins: 1981 Jun 24 Ends: 1992 Mar 2 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 254
PREM19/3615 Belgium (Visits to the UK by Belgian Prime Ministers, Wilfried Martens and Jean-Luc Dehaene) Begins: 1979 Jun 29 Ends: 1992 Jun 22 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 345
PREM19/3618 Broadcasting (Broadcasting policy: television licence fees; future of the BBC) (Part 12) Begins: 1990 Jul 2 Ends: 1992 Aug 28 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 463
PREM19/3623 Canada (Prime Minister's visits to Canada, 25-28 Sep 1983 and 17-18 Dcr 1992) Begins: 1983 Aug 31 Ends: 1992 Dec 17 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 390
PREM19/3624 Canada (Calls on the Prime Minister by the Premiers of Canadian Provinces) Begins: 1979 Aug 6 Ends: 1992 Feb 7 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 90
PREM19/3625 China (Calls on the Prime Minister by the Chinese Ambassador) Begins: 1979 May 30 Ends: 1992 Mar 31 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 161
PREM19/3626 China (Visits to the UK by Vice Premiers of China: meetings with Chinese Foreign Ministers) Begins: 1980 May 8 Ends: 1992 Nov 17 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 185
PREM19/3628 Civil Service (Civil Service manpower: early retirement) (Part 5) Begins: 1990 Aug 1 Ends: 1992 Nov 10 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 95
PREM19/3629 Civil Service (Long-term management and manpower policy: financial management; market testing in the Civil Service; Individual Merit Promotion (IMP) Scheme; recruitment) (Part 22) Begins: 1989 Jan 5 Ends: 1992 Jun 2 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 256
PREM19/3630 Civil Service (Prime Minister's meetings with Permanent Secretaries) Begins: 1988 Feb 1 Ends: 1992 Sep 15 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 28
PREM19/3631 Civil Service (Rules on the acceptance of business appointments by civil servants following resignation or retirement) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Jul 8 Ends: 1991 Oct 17 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 109
PREM19/3634 Colombia (Internal situation: UK/Colombia relations) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Mar 1 Ends: 1992 Sep 30 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3635 Commonwealth (Reports by Commonwealth Secretary-General: activities of the Commonwealth Secretariat) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 May 5 Ends: 1992 Jun 30 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 119
PREM19/3637 Cyprus (Visits to the UK by President Vassiliou of Cyprus) Begins: 1989 Jan 4 Ends: 1992 Jul 13 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department

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