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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
PREM19/3496 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's occasional bilateral meetings with various Cabinet colleagues) (Part 1) Begins: 1985 Dec 17 Ends: 1991 Apr 5 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 283
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
PREM19/1425 China (Sino-British relations; defence sales) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Mar 19 Ends: 1985 May 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 236
PREM19/3403 Ireland (Prime Minister's meetings with the Taoiseach: Anglo-Irish Summits; Anglo-Irish relations) (Part 21) Begins: 1990 Apr 6 Ends: 1991 Jul 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 395
PREM19/1299 Libya (UK/Libyan relations; threat to Libyan dissidents in UK) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jul 9 Ends: 1984 Mar 23 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 151
PREM19/1300 Libya (UK/Libyan relations; threat to Libyan dissidents in UK; shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside Libyan People's Bureau, 17 April 1984; severance of diplomatic relations) (Part 2A) Begins: 1984 Apr 17 Ends: 1984 May 2 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 207
PREM19/3629 Civil Service (Long-term management and manpower policy: financial management; market testing in the Civil Service; Individual Merit Promotion (IMP) Scheme; recruitment) (Part 22) Begins: 1989 Jan 5 Ends: 1992 Jun 2 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 256
PREM19/3467 Netherlands (Internal situation: UK/Dutch relations) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Sep 16 Ends: 1991 Nov 7 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 319
PREM19/1737 Energy (Oil prices: prospects for world oil market; proposed Petroleum Bill; North Sea oil prices; heavy fuel oil prices; oil prices in the longer term) (Part 2) Begins: 1983 Oct 7 Ends: 1986 Jan 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 31 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret and Personal Pages: 336
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
PREM19/3912 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
PREM19/397 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
PREM19/3650 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
PREM19/1658 USA (Prime Minister's visit to Washington, February 1985) (Part 4A) Begins: 1984 Dec 10 Ends: 1985 Feb 15 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 320

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