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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 Endssort descending Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3146 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Turkey, April 1990: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1989 Nov 23 Ends: 1990 May 21 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 7 File classification: Confidential Pages: 158
PREM19/3217 Agriculture (Prime Minister's lunch with innovative farmers, 3 May 1991) Begins: 1989 Nov 27 Ends: 1991 May 2 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 75
PREM19/3102 NATO (NATO Summits) (Part 4) Begins: 1989 Nov 27 Ends: 1990 Jun 27 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 370
PREM19/2974 European Policy (European Community budget: developments in the European Community) (Part 44) Begins: 1989 Nov 30 Ends: 1990 Feb 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2965 Environmental Affairs (Environmental policy: environmental pollution: climate change; Environmental Protection Bill) (Part 13) Begins: 1989 Dec 1 Ends: 1990 Jan 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 205
PREM19/2992 Foreign Policy (East/West relations) (Part 10) Begins: 1989 Dec 1 Ends: 1990 Jan 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3132 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Switzerland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, September 1990: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1989 Dec 1 Ends: 1990 Oct 18 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 8 File classification: Confidential Pages: 370
PREM19/3262 Disasters (Lockerbie bombing, 21 December 1988: Pan Am 747 air crash) (Part 2a) Begins: 1989 Dec 2 Ends: 1991 Nov 15 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3073 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 20) Begins: 1989 Dec 3 Ends: 1990 Aug 1 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret CAB ONE Pages: 177
PREM19/2942 Economic Policy (Budget) (Part 19) Begins: 1989 Dec 6 Ends: 1990 May 17 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2940 Drugs (Drugs) (Part 5) Begins: 1989 Dec 8 Ends: 1990 Apr 17 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3571 Trade (Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD): review of the status of the ECGD; privatisation of Insurance Services Group)​​​​​​​ (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Dec 11 Ends: 1990 Dec 27 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidenrtial Pages: 473
PREM19/3593 Economic Policy (Friendly Societies legislation) Begins: 1989 Dec 12 Ends: 1991 Oct 7 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 93
PREM19/2669 European Policy (European Council meeting, Strasbourg, December 1989) (Part 36) Begins: 1989 Dec 12 Ends: 1989 Dec 15 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/4306 Ministers (Correspondence with Members of Parliament) Begins: 1989 Dec 13 Ends: 1991 Nov 26 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24

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