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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 Endssort ascending Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3970 United Nations (International Year of the Child 1979: World Summit for Children, September 1990) Begins: 1979 May 25 Ends: 1992 Feb 14 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Confidential Pages: 185
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
PREM19/3244 Commonwealth (Meetings with the Commonwealth Secretary-General) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 24 Ends: 1991 Aug 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 8 File classification: Secret Pages: 281
PREM19/46 Energy (Offshore Supplies Interest Relief Grants Scheme) Begins: 1979 May 24 Ends: 1979 Sep 20 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 41
PREM19/129 Vietnam (Vietnamese boat people) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 24 Ends: 1979 Jun 14 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 309
PREM19/67 India (Call on MT by Deputy PM Ram) Begins: 1979 May 24 Ends: 1979 Jun 12 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 18
PREM19/2518 Singapore (Relations with UK: visits by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew; meetings with Prime Minister) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 24 Ends: 1988 Mar 8 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Confidential Pages: 280
PREM19/105 Regional policy (Review of policy, creation of Enterprize Zones) Begins: 1979 May 24 Ends: 1979 Nov 5 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 163
PREM19/269 Industrial policy (Micro-electronics industry; support for Inmos Ltd (INMOS)) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 24 Ends: 1980 Apr 30 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 137
PREM19/143 Canada (UK/Canadian relations: patriation of the Canadian constitution) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 23 Ends: 1980 Nov 6 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 248
PREM19/4330 NATO (Prime Minister's meetings with the Supreme Allied Commander Europe) (SACEUR) Begins: 1979 May 23 Ends: 1993 Oct 27 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/940 United Nations (Visits to UK by Secretary-General, Kurt Waldheim: meetings with Prime Minister) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 23 Ends: 1981 May 13 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Secret Pages: 293
PREM19/926 Soviet Union (Relations between the UK and Soviet Union) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 23 Ends: 1982 Apr 5 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 214
PREM19/2468 Royal Family (Career of the Duke of Kent: possibility of his taking on an unpaid non-executive board appointment in the public sector) Begins: 1979 May 23 Ends: 1987 Apr 9 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1856 National Health (Private Medical Care) Begins: 1979 May 22 Ends: 1986 Feb 17 Date of release: 2015 Dec 30

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