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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 ascending
PREM19/1776 Government Machinery (The 70th anniversary of the Cabinet Office) Begins: 1986 Oct 21 Ends: 1986 Dec 5 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4585 Cambodia (UK/Cambodian relations: internal situation) (Part 2) Begins: 1988 Dec 19 Ends: 1994 Oct 31 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2475 Saudi Arabia (Internal situation: relations with UK) Begins: 1986 May 1 Ends: 1987 Feb 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/1696 Defence (Defence sales) (Part 6) Begins: 1985 Nov 4 Ends: 1986 Jul 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/120 Security (Security of the Secret Services - Anthony Blunt) Begins: 1979 May 8 Ends: 1979 Nov 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 20 Any docs withheld? 10 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/4549 Education (Financing of student unions) Begins: 1980 Feb 4 Ends: 1994 Feb 23 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3329 Ex-Prime Ministers (Policy on requests by former Prime Ministers for access to papers from their administration) (Part 1) Begins: 1974 Apr 1 Ends: 1991 Jan 24 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2960 Education (Tuition fees for overseas students) Begins: 1980 Jun 4 Ends: 1990 Aug 2 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/4033 Civil Service (Property Services Agency restructuring: Wardall Enquiry) (Part 4) Begins: 1990 Aug 3 Ends: 1993 Jun 23 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/1889 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's weekly diary meeting) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1986 Jun 30 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 1
PREM19/2834 St Christopher and Nevis (Relations with UK; independence; internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Mar 4 Ends: 1989 Mar 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2638 Economic Policy (VAT zero rates: infraction proceedings; European Court of Justice judgment) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Feb 12 Ends: 1989 Feb 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/4162 Germany (Internal situation in the Federal Republic of Germany) (Part 4) Begins: 1990 Apr 1 Ends: 1993 Feb 28 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2498 Security (Threat of unauthorised disclosure by former employee of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)) Begins: 1987 Feb 6 Ends: 1987 Mar 20 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/4442 Social Services (Summary of Health and Personal Social Services Accounts, 1979-1980 and 1980-1981: includes correspondence and the consultation document on the Social Work Services Inspectorate in Scotland, 1993) Begins: 1981 Mar 13 Ends: 1993 Mar 30 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28