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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
PREM19/2454 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to NATO Summit, March 1988: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1988 Jan 19 Ends: 1988 Mar 7 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 35
PREM19/3352 Germany (Prime Minister's meetings with Chancellor Kohl in Germany​​​) (Part 8) Begins: 1989 Apr 10 Ends: 1991 Feb 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 215
PREM19/760 France (Anglo-French relations; Prime Minister's meetings with President Giscard d'Estaing and President Mitterrand) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Oct 15 Ends: 1982 Mar 25 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 268
PREM19/952 Argentina (Falklands) (Part 34) Begins: 1983 Apr 2 Ends: 1983 Sep 16 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 313
PREM19/1545 Ireland (Cases of Marian Price, Dolours Rea (nee Price), Pauline McLaughlin, Robert Cardwell and the Gillespie sisters: pleas for release from imprisonment) Begins: 1980 Apr 29 Ends: 1985 Dec 16 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 96
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
PREM19/2775 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
PREM19/3798 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
PREM19/2457 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to G7 Summit - Venice, June 1987: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1986 Oct 30 Ends: 1987 Aug 4 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 85
PREM19/2945 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Houston, July 1990) (Part 30) Begins: 1989 Dec 21 Ends: 1990 Aug 20 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 414
PREM19/3098 Nationalised Industries (Gas and electricity pricing policy: privatisation of the electricity supply industry) (Part 18) Begins: 1990 Jan 2 Ends: 1990 Apr 6 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 259
PREM19/2075 Disasters (Sinking of Townsend Thoresen ferry Herald of Free Enterprise at Zeebrugge, 6 March 1987) Begins: 1987 Mar 6 Ends: 1988 Feb 9 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 6
PREM19/3208 USA (Prime Minister's visits to the USA) (Part 10) Begins: 1990 Sep 21 Ends: 1990 Dec 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 175
PREM19/1533 Housing (Housing policy: the Housing Bill; home improvement policy; private rented sector) (Part 5) Begins: 1985 Jan 1 Ends: 1985 Jun 28 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Confidential Pages: 415

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