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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
PREM19/3261 Defence (Intelligence gathering operations) (Part 5) Begins: 1989 Jul 1 Ends: 1991 Oct 24 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/3871 Pakistan (Internal situation: UK/Pakistan relations) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Aug 1 Ends: 1992 Oct 27 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3000 Germany (Internal situation in East Germany: policy towards German reunification) (Part 3) Begins: 1990 Mar 1 Ends: 1990 Mar 29 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2222 Home Affairs (Monopolies and Mergers Commission Report on proposed takeover of House of Fraser by Lonrho) Begins: 1987 Jan 12 Ends: 1987 Oct 28 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Closed for 40 years
PREM19/4209 Home Affairs (Report of the Committee on Restrictions Against Disabled People: social security benefits and employment and training services for disabled people) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Jul 1 Ends: 1993 Jan 29 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2183 France (Visits to UK by Raymond Barre, December 1981, April 1983, January 1986 and March 1987) Begins: 1980 Dec 1 Ends: 1987 Mar 25 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2035 Chad (Internal situation) Begins: 1981 Nov 12 Ends: 1987 Oct 28 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2728 Hong Kong​​​​​​​ (Future of Hong Kong) (Part 21) Begins: 1989 Mar 2 Ends: 1989 Jul 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2691 France (Visits to UK by President Mitterrand) (Part 6) Begins: 1986 Dec 1 Ends: 1989 Aug 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1861 National Health (Prime Minister's dinner for Regional Health Authority Chairmen, 25 September 1986) Begins: 1986 Jul 15 Ends: 1986 Nov 3 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2537 Soviet Union (Arrest and exile to Gorky of Andrei Sakharov and his wife Yelena Bonner: Prime Minister's meetings with Mrs Bonner and other family members) Begins: 1980 Jan 23 Ends: 1987 Jan 5 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/1741 Environemntal Affairs (Report on leak at Windscale: policy towards Sellafield; environmental pollution; report on incidence of cancer in west Cumbria; report of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Jul 28 Ends: 1986 Jul 22 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4706 Grenada (UK/Grenada relations: internal situation; includes meetings with the government of Grenada) (Part 3) Begins: 1984 Jan 3 Ends: 1994 Oct 17 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3028 Home Affairs (The campaign against and the use of chemical herbicides, especially 2,4,5-T: pesticide policy) Begins: 1980 Jun 1 Ends: 1990 Apr 3 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2276 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 22) Begins: 1986 Nov 1 Ends: 1987 Oct 31 Date of release: Date of release: 2028 File classification: Retained Sec 3.4