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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
PREM19/2228 Home Affairs (Women's National Commission) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1988 Jan 21 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential and Personal Pages: 306
PREM19/2264 Iran (The Shah of Iran's wish to settle in the UK: health and future of the Shah) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1988 Apr 21 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 40
PREM19/2192 Government Machinery (Ministerial responsibility for the arts and libraries) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1987 Jul 16 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/383 USA (Visits to UK by Cyrus Vance, US Secretary of State: meetings with Prime Minister) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1980 Feb 22 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 173
PREM19/1587 New Zealand (Visits to UK by Prime Ministers Robert Muldoon and David Lange) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1985 Mar 4 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 283
PREM19/1588 New Zealand (Visits to UK by Prime Ministers Robert Muldoon and David Lange: briefs) (Part 1 annex) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1985 Mar 4 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/255 Hong Kong (UK trade with China; power projects in Hong Kong involving UK companies) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1980 Dec 31 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 142
PREM19/581 Royal family (Visits to Northern Ireland by Princess Alexandra, June 1979 and June 1981) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1981 May 29 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 9
PREM19/210 Energy (European Community energy issues; research projects; oil import targets; coking coal scheme; projects in the hydrocarbons sector) Begins: 1979 May 11 Ends: 1980 Dec 12 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 131
PREM19/1270 Housing (Policy on the sale of council houses; the right to buy) Begins: 1979 May 11 Ends: 1984 Mar 9 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 184
PREM19/1371 Security (Irish terrorist activity in Great Britain) (Part 1A) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1982 Aug 11 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/76 Iran (Internal situation, including hostage crisis) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1979 Dec 10 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 268
PREM19/3230 Cabinet (Correspondence regarding photographs of the Cabinet and the Whips) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1991 Mar 18 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Restricted Pages: 92
PREM19/844 Ministers (Ministerial travel overseas: general policy) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1982 Jul 1 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 191
PREM19/355 Royal Family (Duke of Windsor’s papers: allegations by Duc de Grantmesnil that they were stolen by secret agents) Begins: 1979 May 10 Ends: 1980 Jun 18 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown

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