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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 descending
PREM19/1253 Government machinery (Organisation of Treasury and Cabinet Office; Management and Personnel Office (MPO); future of Efficiency Unit; abolition of Central Policy Review Staff (CPRS)) (Part 6) Begins: 1982 Aug 25 Ends: 1984 Jan 16 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 342
PREM19/3878 Parliament (Pay and pensions of the Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Speaker) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 29 Ends: 1992 Apr 3 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 342
PREM19/2162 European Policy (European Monetary System (EMS)) (Part 2) Begins: 1982 Mar 1 Ends: 1987 Jan 7 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Pages: 342
PREM19/2319 Manpower (Special employment measures: reducing unemployment below two million; future of the Training Commission) (Part 19) Begins: 1988 Mar 1 Ends: 1988 Oct 31 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 343
PREM19/3191 Trade (UK's international trade policies: analysis of UK imports; General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Uruguay Round) (Part 7) Begins: 1989 Oct 6 Ends: 1990 Nov 27 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 343
PREM19/713 Economic policy (Strategy) (Part 17) Begins: 1982 Jun 8 Ends: 1982 Jul 14 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Confidential Pages: 343
PREM19/2126 Education (General policy on education and education expenditure; Higginson Report on future of 'A' levels; polytechnics; City Arts College; national curriculum issues; opting out of Local Education (Part 19) Begins: 1988 Jun 1 Ends: 1988 Nov 30 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Pages: 343
PREM19/1534 Hungary (UK/Hungarian relations: Prime Minister's visit to Hungary, February 1984) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Feb 1 Ends: 1985 Jan 16 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 343
PREM19/3236 Civil Service (Pay and pensions: Passport Department industrial dispute) (Part 18) Begins: 1989 Feb 1 Ends: 1991 Jul 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 343
PREM19/3780 Government Machinery (Special Political Advisers: appointments) (Part 5) Begins: 1989 Sep 4 Ends: 1992 Apr 30 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 26 File classification: Confidential Pages: 344
PREM19/1835 Local Government (Relations with central government, organisation & finance) (Part 29) Begins: 1985 Dec 2 Ends: 1986 May 28 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 344
PREM19/597 South Africa (Situation in Namibia) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Jul 1 Ends: 1981 Jul 20 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 344
PREM19/1527 Home Affairs (Football hooliganism: behaviour of British football fans abroad; Bradford City stadium fire and European Cup Final disaster in Brussels, May 1985) (Part 2) Begins: 1985 Mar 27 Ends: 1985 May 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 344
PREM19/2335 National Health (Expenditure and efficiency in the National Health Service (NHS): NHS Review) (Part 9) Begins: 1987 Oct 26 Ends: 1988 Jan 29 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Secret Pages: 344
PREM19/843 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 9) Begins: 1981 Dec 11 Ends: 1982 Apr 21 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 344

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