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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
PREM19/3917 Royal Family (Marriage and separation of Prince Andrew) Begins: 1986 Mar 1 Ends: 1992 Mar 21 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2150 European Policy (Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)) (Part 18) Begins: 1987 Oct 1 Ends: 1988 Mar 30 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1630 Security (Hijacking of an Air Tanzania Boeing 737 by Tanzanian dissidents: surrender at Stansted Airport, 28 February 1982) Begins: 1982 Feb 28 Ends: 1985 Nov 19 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4129 European Policy (Direct elections to the European Parliament: size of European Parliament) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Jun 12 Ends: 1993 Mar 30 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2810 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with Lord Young: Enterprise Unit) Begins: 1984 Jun 1 Ends: 1989 Feb 6 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1994 Uganda (Internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Apr 17 Ends: 1986 Jan 31 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 1
PREM19/1990 Transport (London Regional Transport) (Part 1) Begins: 1983 Nov 3 Ends: 1986 Nov 27 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2668 European Policy (European Council meeting, Strasbourg, December 1989) (Part 35) Begins: 1989 Nov 3 Ends: 1989 Dec 11 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1998 USA (Prime Minister's visit to Washington, November 1986) (Part 6) Begins: 1986 Oct 22 Ends: 1986 Nov 17 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily retained by department File classification: Retained under Section 3:4
PREM19/2514 Security (Allegations against the Security Service) Begins: 1977 Jul 16 Ends: 1987 Mar 18 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1728 Education (Student loans: review of financial support for students) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Mar 23 Ends: 1986 May 19 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4480 Transport (Road freight transport and lorry weights) (Part 2) Begins: 1982 Oct 4 Ends: 1993 Sep 15 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3003 Germany (Internal situation in the Federal Republic of Germany) (Part 3) Begins: 1986 Jun 13 Ends: 1990 Mar 2 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2231 Hong Kong (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)) Begins: 1985 Aug 28 Ends: 1987 Jul 21 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Closed for 40 years
PREM19/4214 Home Affairs (Disposal of nuclear waste) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Feb 1 Ends: 1993 Jun 29 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24