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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 namesort descending Title Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3865 NATO (Visits to the UK by the Secretary General of NATO) Begins: 1979 Sep 27 Ends: 1992 Jun 3 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Cab One Pages: 160
PREM19/3866 Netherlands (Visits to the UK by Ruud Lubbers, Dutch Prime Minister) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Sep 11 Ends: 1992 Dec 23 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 253
PREM19/3867 Norway (Visits to the UK by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norwegian Prime Minister) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Apr 10 Ends: 1992 Nov 25 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 173
PREM19/3868 Oman (State visit of Sultan Qaboos of Oman, March 1982: other visits by the Sultan) Begins: 1989 Feb 1 Ends: 1992 Oct 27 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3869 Oman (Internal situation: UK/Oman relations) (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Feb 1 Ends: 1992 Oct 27 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3871 Pakistan (Internal situation: UK/Pakistan relations) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Aug 1 Ends: 1992 Oct 27 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3872 Pakistan (Visit to the UK by President Zia-ul-Haq) Begins: 1980 Sep 1 Ends: 1992 May 25 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3873 Parliament (Cost of Parliamentary questions) Begins: 1982 Jul 15 Ends: 1992 Jan 15 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 23
PREM19/3877 Parliament (Forthcoming Parliamentary affairs) (Part 4) Begins: 1980 Sep 1 Ends: 1992 May 25 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29
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
PREM19/3879 Parliament (Queen's Speeches on prorogation and opening of Parliament: televising the proceedings of the House of Commons) (Part 10) Begins: 1980 Aug 1 Ends: 1992 Mar 25 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3880 Parliament (Review of electoral law and procedures: Representation of the People Bills) Begins: 1981 Nov 11 Ends: 1992 Mar 12 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 365
PREM19/3881 Peru (Internal situation: UK/Peru relations; visits of the Peruvian Speaker (Luis Percovich), Mario Vargas Llosa and President Fujimori) Begins: 1980 Jul 2 Ends: 1992 May 18 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 97
PREM19/3889 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with Baroness Faithfull) Begins: 1986 Aug 29 Ends: 1992 Feb 14 Date of release: 2019 Jul 18
PREM19/3890 Prime Minister (Prime Minister John Major's meetings with Margaret Thatcher​​​​​​​) Begins: 1990 Dec 26 Ends: 1992 Feb 5 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Secret Pages: 19

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