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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 release Any docs withheld? File classification Pagessort ascending
PREM19/2954 Education (General policy on education) (Part 23) Begins: 1990 Jan 9 Ends: 1990 Feb 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2107 Economic Policy (Public sector pay policy; Treasury monitoring reports) (Part 13) Begins: 1984 Oct 4 Ends: 1987 Jul 23 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1606 Prime Minister (Radio profile of the Prime Minister by Hugo Young and Anne Sloman of BBC: discouragement of Civil Service participation) Begins: 1985 Jan 23 Ends: 1985 Jan 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4021 Cabinet (Cabinet Committee structure and membership) (Part 4) Begins: 1990 Oct 19 Ends: 1993 Nov 23 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2128 Education (Teachers' pay) (Part 9) Begins: 1986 Nov 3 Ends: 1987 Mar 30 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/1884 Parliament (Parliamentary Maritime Group: Prime Minister's meeting with Sir Edward du Cann, 8 July 1986) Begins: 1985 Apr 25 Ends: 1986 Jul 8 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1524 Home Affairs (Monopolies and Mergers papers) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Dec 10 Ends: 1985 Dec 19 Date of release: 2054 Jan 1 File classification: FOI exemptions
PREM19/1960 Social Services (Review of National Insurance position of the self-employed; assistance to small businesses; Prime Minister's meeting with National Federation of Self Employed and Small Businesses Ltd) Begins: 1980 May 15 Ends: 1986 Jan 19 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/1787 Home Affairs (Review of restrictions on shopping hours and Sunday trading: Shops Act 1950) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Nov 11 Ends: 1986 Dec 12 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4732 Home Affairs (Behaviour of British football fans abroad: football hooliganism; Football Spectators Bill; Taylor Report on the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster) (Part 9) Begins: 1990 Feb 1 Ends: 1994 Jun 23 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2493 Security (Links between Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and other terrorist organisations: People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine operations in London) Begins: 1979 Sep 28 Ends: 1988 Mar 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/4502 Vanuatu (UK/Vanuatu relations: internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Jul 29 Ends: 1993 Apr 27 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2974 European Policy (European Community budget: developments in the European Community) (Part 44) Begins: 1989 Nov 30 Ends: 1990 Feb 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2136 Energy (Energy policy: nuclear power; revision of report by Advisory Council on Science and Technology (ACOST) on industrial impact of Sizewell 'B' decision; extension of Joint European Torus (JET) project on nuclear fusion; disposal of UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) shareholding in National Nuclear Corporation; fast reactor programme) (Part 12) Begins: 1987 Dec 1 Ends: 1988 May 24 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/1625 Security (Policy on interception: legislation) (Part 4) Begins: 1975 Oct 31 Ends: 1985 Jan 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30

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