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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 Titlesort descending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/105 Regional policy (Review of policy, creation of Enterprize Zones) Begins: 1979 May 24 Ends: 1979 Nov 5 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 163
PREM19/1922 Regional Policy (Review of regional policy: new structure for regional industrial incentives; territorial expenditure; the North/South issue) (Part 7) Begins: 1984 Oct 2 Ends: 1986 Dec 22 Date of release: 2015 Dec 30
PREM19/352 Rhodesia (Constitutional Conference, Lancaster House, London, Sept-Dec 1979: proceedings & conference papers, CC (79) 106-109) Begins: 1979 Dec 15 Ends: 1979 Dec 15 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Restricted Pages: 148
PREM19/349 Rhodesia (Constitutional Conference, Lancaster House, London, Sept-Dec 1979: proceedings & conference papers, CC (79) 11-40) Begins: 1979 Sep 14 Ends: 1979 Oct 26 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Restricted Pages: 269
PREM19/350 Rhodesia (Constitutional Conference, Lancaster House, London, Sept-Dec 1979: proceedings & conference papers, CC (79) 41-79) Begins: 1979 Oct 27 Ends: 1979 Nov 16 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Restricted Pages: 324
PREM19/351 Rhodesia (Constitutional Conference, Lancaster House, London, Sept-Dec 1979: proceedings & conference papers, CC (79) 80-105) Begins: 1979 Nov 19 Ends: 1979 Dec 13 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Restricted Pages: 235
PREM19/353 Rhodesia (Constitutional Conference, Lancaster House, London, Sept-Dec 1979: Report) Begins: 1979 Dec 21 Ends: 1979 Dec 21 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 168
PREM19/348 Rhodesia (Constitutional Conference, Lancaster House, London, Sept-Dec 1979: submission folder; proceedings & conference papers, CC (79) 1-10) Begins: 1979 Jul 13 Ends: 1979 Sep 14 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 419
PREM19/117 Rhodesia (Lord Boyd's Report on April 1979 election) Begins: 1979 May 16 Ends: 1979 May 16 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 74
PREM19/341 Rhodesia (Oil sanctions against Rhodesia; follow-up to Bingham Report; possible further review; proceedings by Lonrho against Shell and BP) Begins: 1979 May 17 Ends: 1980 Sep 22 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 129
PREM19/896 Rhodesia (Sir Roy Welensky, former Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland) Begins: 1979 Oct 31 Ends: 1982 Oct 28 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 61
PREM19/106 Rhodesia (Situation in) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Apr 30 Ends: 1979 May 31 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 321
PREM19/115 Rhodesia (Situation in) (Part 10) Begins: 1979 Nov 19 Ends: 1979 Nov 30 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 273
PREM19/116 Rhodesia (Situation in) (Part 11) Begins: 1979 Dec 2 Ends: 1979 Dec 21 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 443
PREM19/342 Rhodesia (Situation in) (Part 12) Begins: 1979 Dec 21 Ends: 1980 Jan 11 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 265

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