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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
PREM19/536 Ministers (Rules governing travel by Ministers and their families: charging for Royal Air Force aircraft) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 4 Ends: 1981 Nov 16 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 196
PREM19/414 Defence (Defence budget) (Part 4) Begins: 1980 Oct 17 Ends: 1981 Mar 6 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 240
PREM19/415 Defence (Defence budget) (Part 5) Begins: 1981 Mar 11 Ends: 1981 May 17 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 397
PREM19/505 Ireland (Hunger strike at the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland; the 'Dirty Protest') (Part 4) Begins: 1981 May 20 Ends: 1981 Jul 2 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 336
PREM19/598 Trade (Britain's international trading policies; non-tariff barriers; effects on UK industry of open trading system) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Apr 2 Ends: 1981 Oct 30 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 167
PREM19/476 Government machinery (Organisation of Treasury and Civil Service Department (CSD); consideration of a 'Prime Minister's Department') (Part 4) Begins: 1981 May 20 Ends: 1981 Oct 30 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 227
PREM19/569 Prime Minister (Meeting with Peter Fry MP to discuss closure of Wellingborough Foundry; UK footwear and clothing industries) Begins: 1981 May 15 Ends: 1981 Dec 14 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 37
PREM19/444 Economic policy (Disposal of public sector assets) (Part 4) Begins: 1980 Oct 31 Ends: 1981 Oct 21 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 255
PREM19/537 National health (Doctors' and dentists' pay; report of Review Body; consultants' contracts) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Sep 25 Ends: 1981 May 15 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 162
PREM19/283 Ireland (Prime Minister’s meetings with the Taoiseach, Charles Haughey) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Mar 3 Ends: 1980 Aug 8 Date of release: 2011 Feb 23 File classification: Secret Pages: 164
PREM19/285 Israel (Visit to UK by Yigael Yadin, Deputy Prime Minister, March 1980: call on Prime Minister) Begins: 1980 Mar 3 Ends: 1980 Apr 3 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 19
PREM19/384 Yemen Arab Republic (Visit to UK by Prime Minister Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani, November 1980: meeting with Prime Minister) Begins: 1979 Aug 13 Ends: 1980 Jan 4 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 69
PREM19/253 Home Affairs (Increase in incidence of leukaemia in Lancashire; correspondence with Stan Thorne MP) Begins: 1979 Oct 4 Ends: 1980 Feb 25 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 69
PREM19/346 Rhodesia (Situation in) (Part 16) Begins: 1980 Feb 29 Ends: 1980 Mar 19 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 224
PREM19/224 European Policy (European Community budget) (Part 6) Begins: 1980 Feb 26 Ends: 1980 Mar 19 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 153

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