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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 Endssort descending Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3261 Defence (Intelligence gathering operations) (Part 5) Begins: 1989 Jul 1 Ends: 1991 Oct 24 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/2595 Broadcasting (Broadcasting policy: Broadcasting Bill) (Part 9) Begins: 1989 Jul 3 Ends: 1989 Oct 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 285
PREM19/4722 Home Affairs (Data protection: computer hacking) (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Jul 3 Ends: 1994 Dec 20 Date of release: 2019 Feb 6
PREM19/2645 Education (General policy on education) (Part 22) Begins: 1989 Jul 3 Ends: 1989 Dec 19 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3032 Housing (Housing policy: homelessness) (Part 16) Begins: 1989 Jul 3 Ends: 1990 Jun 22 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2659 Environmental Affairs (Benson Building, Islington) (Part 12) Begins: 1989 Jul 3 Ends: 1989 Jul 18 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 5
PREM19/2708 Government Machinery (Rayner Scrutiny programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste; value for money seminars; Next Steps initiative) (Part 31) Begins: 1989 Jul 3 Ends: 1989 Oct 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 384
PREM19/2991 Food (Food safety) (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Jul 3 Ends: 1990 Apr 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2836 Science and Technology (Maintaining the strength of the science base: the science budget) (Part 9) Begins: 1989 Jul 4 Ends: 1989 Dec 22 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2937 Defence (Prime Ministers seminar on defence questions, Chequers, 30 September 1989) Begins: 1989 Jul 4 Ends: 1990 Jan 8 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2779 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service: community care) (Part 22) Begins: 1989 Jul 5 Ends: 1989 Oct 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 398
PREM19/3594 Economic Policy (Indebtedness of various countries: Treasury reports on international debt) (Part 8) Begins: 1989 Jul 7 Ends: 1991 Oct 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 560
PREM19/2634 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Paris, July 1989) (Part 28) [filed out of sequence; for Part 27 see PREM19/3277] Begins: 1989 Jul 10 Ends: 1989 Jul 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 333
PREM19/3378 Home Affairs (Government support for voluntary bodies) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Jul 10 Ends: 1991 Oct 17 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 265
PREM19/3590 Vietnam ​​​​​​​(Vietnamese refugees)​​​​​​​ (Part 5) Begins: 1989 Jul 12 Ends: 1991 Oct 30 Date of release: 2032 Jan 1

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