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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 classificationsort ascending Pages
PREM19/2926 Civil Service (Speeches by the Heads of the Civil Service, Sir Robert Armstrong and Sir Robin Butler) Begins: 1985 Jun 14 Ends: 1990 Oct 1 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3968 Treasury (Secret Vote cash limits: Intelligence Agencies estimates) Begins: 1990 Oct 10 Ends: 1992 Dec 1 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3329 Ex-Prime Ministers (Policy on requests by former Prime Ministers for access to papers from their administration) (Part 1) Begins: 1974 Apr 1 Ends: 1991 Jan 24 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/4597 Costa Rica (UK/Costa Rican relations) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 May 5 Ends: 1994 Feb 7 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2672 European Policy (Meeting of European Community leaders to discuss the situation in Eastern Europe, Paris, 18 November 1989) Begins: 1989 Nov 13 Ends: 1989 Nov 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3536 Security ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's comments on codeword documents)​​​​​​​ Begins: 1979 Jun 21 Ends: 1991 Feb 10 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/1679 Cabinet (Cabinet Committee structure and membership) (Part 2) Begins: 1982 Oct 6 Ends: 1986 Jan 24 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4227 Hong Kong (Future of the Governor of Hong Kong) (Part 1) Begins: 1990 May 1 Ends: 1993 Feb 2 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4328 Nationalised Industries (Shipbuilding policy) (Part 16) Begins: 1989 Dec 18 Ends: 1993 Jan 20 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2022 Bermuda (UK/Bermuda relations; meetings with John Swan, Premier of Bermuda) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 May 21 Ends: 1987 Jun 26 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1772 Government Machinery (Rayner Scrutiny programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste; White Paper on deregulation) (Part 20) Begins: 1985 Dec 1 Ends: 1986 May 30 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/2621 Disasters (Disaster at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, 15 April 1989) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Aug 1 Ends: 1990 Apr 10 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2793 Parliament (House of Commons procedure: Select Committees) (Part 9) Begins: 1987 Feb 4 Ends: 1989 Mar 7 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/1648 Trade (Export promotion: General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT); export credits; contract for second Bosphorus bridge) (Part 4) Begins: 1984 Jun 1 Ends: 1985 Jun 27 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4576 Bermuda (UK/Bermuda relations: internal situation) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Jul 1 Ends: 1994 Oct 6 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28

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