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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
PREM19/55 European policy (European Community budget) (Part 3) Begins: 1979 Oct 25 Ends: 1979 Nov 30 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 329
PREM19/23 Economic policy (Public Spending) (Part 6) Begins: 1979 Oct 24 Ends: 1979 Nov 19 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 292
PREM19/116 Rhodesia (Situation in) (Part 11) Begins: 1979 Dec 2 Ends: 1979 Dec 21 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 443
PREM19/117 Rhodesia (Lord Boyd's Report on April 1979 election) Begins: 1979 May 16 Ends: 1979 May 16 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 74
PREM19/56 Fishing Industry (Mourne herring fishery) Begins: 1979 Aug 22 Ends: 1979 Aug 30 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 19
PREM19/24 Economic policy (Strategy) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 4 Ends: 1979 Jun 14 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 111
PREM19/86 Israel (Farewell call by Israeli Ambassador, July 1979) Begins: 1979 Jul 5 Ends: 1979 Jul 24 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 18
PREM19/57 France (MT visits to, Paris June 1979) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 8 Ends: 1979 Aug 28 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 172
PREM19/25 Economic policy (Strategy) (Part 2) Begins: 1979 Jun 17 Ends: 1979 Jul 13 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 167
PREM19/119 Security (Robin Cook's Bill on the Security Service) Begins: 1979 Nov 29 Ends: 1979 Dec 17 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 17
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
PREM19/87 Italy (Italian PM’s visits to UK) (?Part 1) [possible filing error - Part 2 of this file has no clear Part 1] Begins: 1979 Jun 1 Ends: 1979 Jul 16 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 104
PREM19/58 Germany (Chancellor's visits to UK, Schmidt May 1979) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 4 Ends: 1979 May 25 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 220
PREM19/26 Economic policy (Strategy) (Part 3) Begins: 1979 Jul 16 Ends: 1979 Oct 2 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 56
PREM19/121 Social services (Benefits) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 19 Ends: 1979 Dec 20 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 158

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