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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 classificationsort descending Pages
PREM19/387 Afghanistan (Internal Situation) (Part 5) Begins: 1980 Apr 10 Ends: 1981 Sep 14 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 333
PREM19/1288 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 17B) Begins: 1984 Oct 6 Ends: 1984 Oct 31 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 239
PREM19/791 Hong Kong (Future of Hong Kong) (Part 3) Begins: 1982 Oct 6 Ends: 1982 Nov 6 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 228
PREM19/321 Parliament (Defence Committee inquiry into Polaris successor systems) Begins: 1980 May 9 Ends: 1980 Oct 17 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 14
PREM19/417 Defence (UK Strategic Nuclear Deterrent) (Part 3) Begins: 1980 Jun 10 Ends: 1981 Nov 12 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 276
PREM19/3174 Soviet Union (Human rights and the position of dissidents in the Soviet Union: policy towards the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Jun 17 Ends: 1990 May 26 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 7 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 277
PREM19/1760 France (Anglo-French relations) (Part 3) Begins: 1985 Jul 4 Ends: 1986 Oct 23 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 204
PREM19/1635 Security (Prime Minister's visit to Century House (SIS headquarters), September 1984) Begins: 1984 Sep 5 Ends: 1984 Oct 8 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 10
PREM19/1505 Foreign Policy (British policy in the Antarctic) Begins: 1980 Dec 5 Ends: 1985 Aug 16 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 197
PREM19/3641 Defence (Basing of United States Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM) in the UK) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Apr 18 Ends: 1992 May 20 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 114
PREM19/1382 Security (Oleg Bitov, Soviet defector; Bitov's return to Moscow) Begins: 1983 Oct 21 Ends: 1984 Sep 17 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 19
PREM19/2053 Defence (Arms control) (Part 10) Begins: 1986 Dec 1 Ends: 1987 Mar 10 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 261
PREM19/3080 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 27) Begins: 1990 Sep 1 Ends: 1990 Sep 16 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 7 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 299
PREM19/2181 France (Anglo-French relations: French disruption of UK lamb trade; Anglo-French nuclear defence cooperation; Prime Minister Michel Rocard's environmental initiative) (Part 4) Begins: 1986 Nov 3 Ends: 1988 Nov 28 Date of release: 2017 Jan 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 339
PREM19/3837 Jordan (Illness of King Hussein) (Part 1) Begins: 1984 Jan 3 Ends: 1992 Oct 21 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 26

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