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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
PREM19/3018 Government Machinery (Rayner Scrutiny Programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste; value for money seminars; Next Steps initiative) (Part 33) Begins: 1990 Mar 1 Ends: 1990 Mar 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/1899 Prime Minister (Meeting with Terry Lewis MP about Walkden Workshops) Begins: 1986 Aug 18 Ends: 1986 Sep 23 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2566 USA (Prime Minister's visit to Washington, July 1987) (Part 1) Begins: 1987 Jun 12 Ends: 1987 Jul 23 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4828 Mexico (Anglo-Mexican relations: internal situation in Mexico) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Aug 25 Ends: 1994 Dec 5 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3809 Industrial Policy (Microelectronics industry: Inmos Ltd (INMOS)) (Part 3) Begins: 1984 Apr 20 Ends: 1992 Dec 7 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/1675 Australia (Visits of Australian Prime Ministers to London: Malcolm Fraser (February 1980 and July 1981) and Robert Hawke (June 1983 and April 1986); meetings with the Prime Minister) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Jan 21 Ends: 1986 Apr 22 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4758 Indonesia (UK/Indonesia relations: internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 1 Ends: 1994 Dec 31 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2920 Canada (UK/Canadian relations) (Part 6) Begins: 1985 Sep 5 Ends: 1990 Jun 25 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1589 Oman (UK policy: relations with Oman) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 18 Ends: 1985 Jun 24 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/1869 Nationalised Industries (Shipbuilding policy) (Part 8) Begins: 1985 Feb 4 Ends: 1986 Jan 31 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2741 Industrial Policy (Short Brothers Plc: corporate plan and privatisation prospects) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Jun 13 Ends: 1989 Mar 23 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1855 National Health (Committee on Human Fertilisation and Embryology (chaired by Lady Warnock); medical ethics; human surrogacy; German conference on bioethics) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Feb 10 Ends: 1986 Apr 4 Date of release: 2015 Dec 30
PREM19/1917 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Israel, May 1986: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1986 Feb 4 Ends: 1986 Dec 18 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2597 China (Internal situation in China) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 30 Ends: 1989 Jul 21 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1771 Government Machinery (Review of administrative forms) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Aug 14 Ends: 1986 Oct 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30