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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 ascending Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/1628 Security (Contingency arrangements for dealing with terrorist incidents) Begins: 1979 Jun 8 Ends: 1985 Nov 21 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 25
PREM19/328 Parliament (Top Salaries Review Body report on Parliamentary pay) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 8 Ends: 1980 Feb 7 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 243
PREM19/3417 Kenya (UK/Kenya relations: internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 8 Ends: 1991 Oct 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 8 File classification: Secret Pages: 292
PREM19/3383 Home Affairs ​​​​​​​(Registration of children's homes) Begins: 1979 Jun 7 Ends: 1991 Jun 4 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/1065 Industrial policy (Port of London Authority (PLA); five year plan; finances; closures; possible industrial action) Begins: 1979 Jun 7 Ends: 1983 May 13 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 76
PREM19/1150 USA (Visits by Senator Jesse Helms and John Carbaugh; discussion of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe sanctions and US political matters) Begins: 1979 Jun 7 Ends: 1983 Jul 23 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 97
PREM19/1006 Economic policy (Consultation with International Monetary Fund (IMF); meetings of IMF and World Bank) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 7 Ends: 1983 Feb 15 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 240
PREM19/363 Security (Policy on interception) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 7 Ends: 1980 Mar 19 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown
PREM19/125 Transport (Consumers & nationalized transport industries) Begins: 1979 Jun 7 Ends: 1979 Jul 3 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 17
PREM19/976 Defence (Exports of defence equipment to Iran; sanctions; delivery of Iranian ship 'Kharg') Begins: 1979 Jun 7 Ends: 1983 Sep 21 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 138
PREM19/899 Royal family (Civil List) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 7 Ends: 1982 Mar 23 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown
PREM19/3089 Ministers (Prime Minister's meetings with Junior Ministers) Begins: 1979 Jun 6 Ends: 1990 Sep 12 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 266
PREM19/1794 Home Affairs (Animal welfare matters) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 6 Ends: 1986 Sep 25 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/2528 South Africa (Report of the Erasmus Commission on alleged irregularities in the South African Department of Information; resignation of President John Vorster; European Community Erasmus programme (student exchange programme)) Begins: 1979 Jun 6 Ends: 1987 Jan 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 12
PREM19/789 Hong Kong (Future of Hong Kong) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 5 Ends: 1982 Sep 8 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 297

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