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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?sort descending File classification Pages
PREM19/3232 Cars (Use of the Government Car Service) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Sep 5 Ends: 1991 Dec 17 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 175
PREM19/2529 Soviet Union (Prime Minister's visit to Soviet Union, March-April 1987) (Part 1) Begins: 1987 Jan 5 Ends: 1987 Mar 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 603
PREM19/1793 Home Affairs (The 1978 annual report by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC): financing of the NSPCC) Begins: 1979 Jul 2 Ends: 1986 Jan 22 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 84
PREM19/3912 Qatar (Visits to the UK by the Amir of Qatar) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Feb 1 Ends: 1992 Feb 10 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 75
PREM19/3650 Defence (Military uses of laser technology in space: United States Strategic Defence Initiative; Global Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS)) (Part 6) Begins: 1989 Jun 14 Ends: 1992 Sep 23 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 212
PREM19/3350 Germany (Chancellor Schmidt's visit to Moscow, June-July 1980: relations between Federal Republic of Germany and USSR) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Apr 14 Ends: 1991 Feb 11 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 107
PREM19/1420 Argentina (Falklands) (Part 39) Begins: 1984 Nov 1 Ends: 1985 Apr 25 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 383
PREM19/397 Canada (UK/Canadian relations: patriation of the Canadian constitution) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Nov 11 Ends: 1981 Feb 27 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 252
PREM19/2643 Education (General policy on education) (Part 20) Begins: 1988 Dec 1 Ends: 1989 Mar 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 397
PREM19/1566 Malaysia (UK/Malaysia relations: visit to UK by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, March 1983; meeting with Prime Minister) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Aug 28 Ends: 1985 Jul 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4
PREM19/3828 Israel (Internal situation: UK/Israel relations) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Feb 4 Ends: 1992 Jul 23 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 426
PREM19/878 Prime Minister (Communications with Jimmy Savile concerning tax deductions for charitable donations following his fund raising for Stoke Mandeville hospital) Begins: 1980 Feb 5 Ends: 1982 Jan 8 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 22
PREM19/1912 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Expo' 86 exhibition in Vancouver, Canada, July 1986: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1986 Jan 18 Ends: 1986 Aug 12 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 329
PREM19/3205 USA (Economic Situation) (Part 4) Begins: 1987 Apr 27 Ends: 1990 Jan 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 384
PREM19/3346 France (Prime Minister's visits to France: Anglo-French Summits) (Part 7) Begins: 1989 Mar 1 Ends: 1991 Jul 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 270

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