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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
PREM19/208 Energy (Coking coal: National Coal Board grant; British Steel Corporation imports) Begins: 1979 Jul 23 Ends: 1980 Sep 8 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 52
PREM19/301 National Health (Overspending by Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Area Health Authority (AHA); removal of powers by Social Services Secretary; AHA resumption of powers following Court ruling) Begins: 1979 Jul 31 Ends: 1980 Mar 3 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 30
PREM19/176 Economic policy (Budget) (Part 3) Begins: 1979 Mar 1 Ends: 1980 May 12 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 198
PREM19/270 Industrial policy (Resource Centre in Wales: Welsh Office contribution to feasibility study by Wales Trades Union Congress) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Nov 19 Ends: 1980 Nov 25 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 9
PREM19/147 Civil Service (Long-term management and manpower policy: efficiency of central government; Civil Service manpower; Sir Derek Rayner’s recommendations for reforms) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Mar 10 Ends: 1980 Apr 10 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 162
PREM19/368 Social Services (Action on child abuse; death of Lucy Gates) (Part 3) Begins: 1980 Nov 5 Ends: 1980 Dec 31 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 16
PREM19/241 Government Machinery (Responsibility for science matters; future of Advisory Council for Applied Research and Development (ACARD)) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 16 Ends: 1980 Feb 28 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 147
PREM19/331 Poland (Internal situation; relations with UK) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Aug 22 Ends: 1980 Nov 28 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 227
PREM19/302 Nationalised Industries (Coal mines) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 27 Ends: 1980 Mar 17 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 145
PREM19/177 Economic policy (Domestic monetary policy) (Part 3) Begins: 1980 Jan 7 Ends: 1980 May 2 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 214
PREM19/271 Industrial policy (Industrial support) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Aug 8 Ends: 1980 Oct 15 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 84
PREM19/148 Civil Service (Long-term management and manpower policy: efficiency of central government; Civil Service manpower; Sir Derek Rayner’s recommendations for reforms) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Apr 10 Ends: 1980 Apr 23 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 234
PREM19/369 Social Services (Prime Minister’s meeting with representatives of the Community Service Volunteers to discuss youth unemployment) Begins: 1980 Jul 2 Ends: 1980 Nov 11 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 78
PREM19/242 Government Machinery (Promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste: the scrutiny programme) (Part 4) Begins: 1979 Nov 30 Ends: 1980 Feb 12 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 228
PREM19/332 Post and Telecommunications (Postal charges on articles for the blind) Begins: 1980 May 21 Ends: 1981 Jan 19 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Restricted Pages: 37

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