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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
PREM19/3713 European Policy (Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)) (Part 20) Begins: 1990 Jul 18 Ends: 1992 Dec 31 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Confidential Pages: 378
PREM19/1123 Royal family (Royal visits by Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico, USA, and Canada [also Belize] February-March 1983) Begins: 1982 Jun 4 Ends: 1983 Jan 31 Date of release: 2014 Feb 14 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret Pages: 46
PREM19/1474 Energy (Future of British National Oil Corporation (BNOC): flotation of Britoil, BNOC oil-producing business) (Part 5) Begins: 1982 Jan 14 Ends: 1985 Nov 12 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret Pages: 282
PREM19/1010 Education (Training colleges; extension of technical and vocational education; National Training Commission; responsibility for work related training) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Oct 25 Ends: 1983 Dec 23 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret Pages: 255
PREM19/1301 Libya (Anglo-Libyan relations; aftermath of shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside Libyan People's Bureau, 17 April 1984; severance of diplomatic relations) (Part 2B) Begins: 1984 Apr 24 Ends: 1984 Apr 30 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 151
PREM19/1847 Defence (Higher organisation for defence) Begins: 1984 Feb 24 Ends: 1986 Oct 2 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 5
PREM19/3186 Soviet Union (Situation of Jews in the Soviet Union: Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry; Prime Minister's meeting with Ida Nudel; Raoul Wallenberg) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Feb 10 Ends: 1990 Jun 20 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret Pages: 169
PREM19/3053 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 28) [Part 27 out of sequence] Begins: 1990 May 1 Ends: 1991 Apr 30 Date of release: Date of release: 2027 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret Pages: 303
PREM19/2157 European Policy (European Council meeting, Copenhagen, December 1987) (Part 27) Begins: 1986 Sep 22 Ends: 1987 Dec 14 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret Pages: 331
PREM19/2534 Soviet Union (Soviet military expenditure and capabilities) Begins: 1979 May 24 Ends: 1988 Dec 7 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 218
PREM19/3192 Transport (British Rail: possible line closures; public transport disputes; proposed restructuring of British Rail) (Part 10) Begins: 1988 Oct 5 Ends: 1990 Jan 11 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret Pages: 284
PREM19/1113 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's visit to Falklands, Jan 1983) (Part 2) Begins: 1983 Jan 10 Ends: 1983 Mar 29 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret Pages: 153
PREM19/2894 Vietnam (Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong; resettlement in the UK) (Part 4) Begins: 1981 Mar 3 Ends: 1989 Jun 29 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Confidential Pages: 251
PREM19/2821 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Strasbourg for European Council meeting, December 1989: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1989 Sep 3 Ends: 1989 Dec 12 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Confidential Pages: 85
PREM19/1643 South Africa (Internal situation: relations with UK) (Part 6) Begins: 1985 Sep 2 Ends: 1985 Sep 30 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret Pages: 311

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