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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
PREM19/2809 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings and correspondence with Jack Peel (Director of Industrial Relations at the European Commission until March 1981)) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Jan 1 Ends: 1989 Sep 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/4588 Chile (UK/Chilean relations: internal situation; policy on arms sales) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Mar 13 Ends: 1994 May 25 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2013 Afghanistan (Internal situation) (Part 7) Begins: 1986 May 8 Ends: 1988 Mar 30 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2667 European Policy (European Council meeting, Madrid, June 1989) (Part 34) Begins: 1989 Jun 27 Ends: 1989 Jul 17 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1774 Government Machinery (Rayner Scrutiny programme: promotion of efficiency and elimination of waste) (Part 21) Begins: 1986 Jun 2 Ends: 1986 Oct 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/2513 Security (Case of Michael Bettaney and the ensuing review of the Security Service) Begins: 1986 Jun 2 Ends: 1988 Nov 8 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2230 Hong Kong (Future of Hong Kong) (Part 19) Begins: 1986 Nov 18 Ends: 1987 Sep 9 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4561 Afghanistan (UK/Afghanistan relations: internal situation) (Part 8) Begins: 1988 Apr 6 Ends: 1994 Jun 15 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2058 Defence (Policy on biological and chemical weapons) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1988 Dec 23 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/3769 Gibraltar (Policy towards Gibraltar) (Part 6) Begins: 1986 Dec 3 Ends: 1992 Mar 16 Date of release: Date of release: 2024 review File classification: Retained under Sec 3:4
PREM19/2696 Germany (Internal situation in East Germany: question of German reunification) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Oct 1 Ends: 1989 Dec 31 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1990 Transport (London Regional Transport) (Part 1) Begins: 1983 Nov 3 Ends: 1986 Nov 27 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/4574 Belgium (UK/Belgian relations: internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Oct 12 Ends: 1994 Jun 6 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/1828 Libya (Internal situation: Anglo-Libyan relations; aftermath of shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside Libyan People's Bureau, 17 April 1984; severance of diplomatic relations) (Part 3B) Begins: 1984 May 31 Ends: 1986 Apr 1 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Retained under Section 3:4
PREM19/1790 Home Affairs (Interim payments for civil legal aid work: criminal legal aid remuneration) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Dec 8 Ends: 1986 Jul 15 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30