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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
PREM19/3408 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 27) Begins: 1989 Jan 20 Ends: 1990 Apr 26 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret Pages: 303
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
PREM19/2382 Parliament (Queen's Speeches on prorogation and opening of Parliament: televising the State Opening) (Part 7) Begins: 1986 Jul 21 Ends: 1987 Jun 29 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Confidential Pages: 282
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
PREM19/3591 Zambia (Visits to the UK by the Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda)​​​​​​​ (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Nov 1 Ends: 1991 Nov 15 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Confidential Pages: 290
PREM19/3278 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - London, July 1991) (Part 31) Begins: 1988 Aug 22 Ends: 1991 Mar 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Confidential Pages: 249
PREM19/2054 Defence (Arms control) (Part 11) Begins: 1987 Mar 11 Ends: 1987 Apr 30 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Secret and Personal Pages: 228
PREM19/2996 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to Switzerland, September 1990) (Folder 2) Begins: 1990 Aug 20 Ends: 1990 Sep 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Confidential Pages: 56
PREM19/3175 Soviet Union (Prime Minister's visits to the Soviet Union, September 1989 and June 1990: policy) (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Apr 19 Ends: 1990 May 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 188
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
PREM19/2775 National Health (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Jan 14 Ends: 1989 Dec 15 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 354
PREM19/3058 Italy (Visits of the Italian Prime Minister: visits of the Italian President) (Part 3) Begins: 1986 Oct 3 Ends: 1990 Oct 20 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 316
PREM19/2056 Defence (Arms control) (Part 13) Begins: 1987 Jun 15 Ends: 1987 Nov 26 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 263
PREM19/3798 Hong Kong (Guangdong nuclear power station project at Daya Bay, China: meetings with Lord Kadoorie, Chairman of China Light and Power Company (CLP)) (Part 4) Begins: 1986 Jan 3 Ends: 1992 Sep 8 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 193

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