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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 releasesort ascending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/188 Economic policy (G7 Summit - Venice) (Part 3) Begins: 1980 Jan 3 Ends: 1980 Jun 20 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 265
PREM19/281 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 7) Begins: 1980 Jun 5 Ends: 1980 Aug 5 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 156
PREM19/158 Defence (Defence equipment trade with USA; possible sale of improved Harriers - the AV-8B) Begins: 1979 Dec 14 Ends: 1980 Jul 31 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 42
PREM19/380 Tunisia (Call on Prime Minister by Habib Bourguiba, son of Tunisian President, March 1980) Begins: 1980 Feb 29 Ends: 1980 Mar 21 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 18
PREM19/249 Government Machinery (Future of Civil Service Department; integration with the Treasury; Select Committee consideration) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Mar 14 Ends: 1980 Jul 4 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 215
PREM19/342 Rhodesia (Situation in) (Part 12) Begins: 1979 Dec 21 Ends: 1980 Jan 11 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 265
PREM19/221 European Policy (European Council Meeting, Luxembourg, 1-2 December 1980) (Part 5) Begins: 1980 Oct 24 Ends: 1980 Dec 4 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 128
PREM19/314 Nationalised Industries (Shipbuilding; British Shipbuilders (BS) strategy and financing; BS pay claim; privatisation) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Dec 5 Ends: 1980 Nov 12 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 193
PREM19/189 Economic policy (G7 Summit - Venice) (Part 4) [Part 5 of this file has been destroyed] Begins: 1980 Jun 20 Ends: 1980 Aug 28 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 189
PREM19/282 Ireland (Hunger strike at Maze Prison, Northern Ireland; the ‘Dirty Protest’) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Nov 15 Ends: 1980 Dec 10 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Secret Pages: 245
PREM19/381 USA (Visit to UK by Dr Harold Brown, US Secretary of Defense, June 1980: meeting with Prime Minister) Begins: 1980 May 28 Ends: 1980 Aug 15 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 74
PREM19/250 Government Machinery (Future of Civil Service Department; integration with the Treasury; Select Committee consideration) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Jul 7 Ends: 1980 Nov 28 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 549
PREM19/343 Rhodesia (Situation in) (Part 13) Begins: 1980 Jan 12 Ends: 1980 Jan 24 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 258
PREM19/222 European Policy (European Community budget) (Part 4) Begins: 1979 Dec 3 Ends: 1980 Jan 21 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 219
PREM19/315 Nationalised Industries (Correspondence with Alan Newman Ltd about contract for conversion of liner into floating hotel: negative response from Harland and Wolff and British Shipbuilders) Begins: 1980 Jul 2 Ends: 1980 Aug 4 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 14

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