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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 Beginssort ascending Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/1856 National Health (Private Medical Care) Begins: 1979 May 22 Ends: 1986 Feb 17 Date of release: 2015 Dec 30
PREM19/256 Housing (Housing policy; the Housing Bill; council house sales) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 22 Ends: 1980 Jul 31 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 117
PREM19/1269 Housing (Organisation and structure of building societies; mortgage rates; review of house purchase finance) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 22 Ends: 1984 Jun 29 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 315
PREM19/66 Home affairs (Sale of Isle of Iona) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1979 Jun 7 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 12
PREM19/961 Cabinet (Brevity in recording of Cabinet and Committee minutes; guidance on Cabinet papers) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1983 Jun 17 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 9
PREM19/1395 Sri Lanka (Internal situation; UK/Sri Lankan relations; aid to Sri Lanka) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1984 Oct 22 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 354
PREM19/2472 Royal Family (Career of Prince Andrew, Duke of York) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1987 Oct 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1962 Social Services (Assistance with fuel costs; alternatives to electricity discount scheme; home insulation scheme; severe weather payments) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1986 Feb 26 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2 Australia (MT visit to, Jul 1979) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1979 Aug 3 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 212
PREM19/1889 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's weekly diary meeting) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1986 Jun 30 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 1
PREM19/14 Defence (UK Strategic Nuclear Deterrent) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1979 Dec 15 Date of release: 2013 Sep 24 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 177
PREM19/972 Defence (Briefing on military capabilities of Warsaw Pact) Begins: 1979 May 21 Ends: 1983 Jan 19 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 25
PREM19/3520 Saudi Arabia (Visit of Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, May 1979) Begins: 1979 May 19 Ends: 1991 May 20 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential Pages: 16
PREM19/2712 Government Machinery (The Central Office of Information (COI) and the future of the Information Services: Government advertising expenditure; repayment for services provided by the COI) Begins: 1979 May 18 Ends: 1989 May 11 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

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