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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 Beginssort descending Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/2799 Poland (UK/Polish relations: internal situation; economic assistance) (Part 11) Begins: 1989 Sep 1 Ends: 1989 Dec 27 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Top Secret Cab One Pages: 430
PREM19/3367 Government Machinery (Forthcoming announcements and publications) (Part 5) Begins: 1989 Sep 1 Ends: 1991 Jul 22 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 255
PREM19/2738 Industrial Policy (Research and development, including European Community framework programme for research and development) (Part 7) Begins: 1989 Sep 1 Ends: 1989 Dec 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2997 Germany (Anglo-German relations) (Part 5) Begins: 1989 Sep 1 Ends: 1990 Sep 13 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3741 European Policy (European Monetary System (EMS): economic and monetary union) (Part 5) [filed out of sequence] Begins: 1989 Sep 1 Ends: 1990 Nov 30 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24 File classification: Secret Pages: 434
PREM19/2821 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Strasbourg for European Council meeting, December 1989: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1989 Sep 3 Ends: 1989 Dec 12 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Confidential Pages: 85
PREM19/4240 India (UK/Indian relations) (Part 7) Begins: 1989 Sep 4 Ends: 1993 Apr 13 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3062 Local Government (Corre from Sir John Sainsbury on planning controls; general planning inquiries; future of development plans; Planning Bill) (Part 7) Begins: 1989 Sep 4 Ends: 1990 Jul 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 320
PREM19/3846 Local Government (Water industry: structural change; privatisation of the water authorities; consultation paper 'Using Water Wisely') (Part 7) Begins: 1989 Sep 4 Ends: 1992 Nov 23 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 408
PREM19/2861 South Africa (Internal situation: relations with UK) (Part 20) Begins: 1989 Sep 4 Ends: 1989 Oct 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Secret Pages: 267
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
PREM19/3232 Cars (Use of the Government Car Service) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Sep 5 Ends: 1991 Dec 17 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 175
PREM19/2943 Economic Policy (Domestic monetary policy) (Part 21) Begins: 1989 Sep 5 Ends: 1990 Apr 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 441
PREM19/3128 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with Nicholas Ridley, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry) Begins: 1989 Sep 5 Ends: 1990 May 21 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 15
PREM19/3394 Industrial Policy (Industrial relations legislation: strikes in essential services; Green Paper 'Industrial Relations in the 1990s') (Part 16) Begins: 1989 Sep 6 Ends: 1991 Nov 25 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 361

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