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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 Titlesort descending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/1961 Social Services (Board and lodging charges) Begins: 1984 Nov 28 Ends: 1986 Dec 18 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/922 Social services (Employers' statutory sick pay scheme) Begins: 1979 Dec 6 Ends: 1981 Nov 11 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 85
PREM19/1964 Social Services (National Insurance contributions review; National Insurance surcharge; Redundancy Fund) Begins: 1979 Nov 5 Ends: 1985 Nov 7 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/369 Social Services (Prime Minister’s meeting with representatives of the Community Service Volunteers to discuss youth unemployment) Begins: 1980 Jul 2 Ends: 1980 Nov 11 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 78
PREM19/365 Social Services (Rayner study on arrangements for paying social security benefits) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Nov 22 Ends: 1980 Sep 30 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 282
PREM19/596 Social services (Rayner Study on arrangements for paying social security benefits) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Oct 8 Ends: 1981 May 12 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 76
PREM19/1638 Social Services (Reform of social security: pensions, housing benefit and supplementary benefit; child support) (Part 1) Begins: 1984 Dec 28 Ends: 1985 Mar 29 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 232
PREM19/1639 Social Services (Reform of social security: pensions, housing benefit and supplementary benefit; child support) (Part 2) Begins: 1985 Apr 4 Ends: 1985 May 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 251
PREM19/1640 Social Services (Reform of social security: pensions, housing benefit and supplementary benefit; child support) (Part 3) Begins: 1985 Jun 3 Ends: 1985 Nov 29 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 347
PREM19/1960 Social Services (Review of National Insurance position of the self-employed; assistance to small businesses; Prime Minister's meeting with National Federation of Self Employed and Small Businesses Ltd) Begins: 1980 May 15 Ends: 1986 Jan 19 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/366 Social Services (Taxation of short term benefits, supplementary benefits and strikers' benefits; financial treatment of strikers and their families) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Jan 3 Ends: 1980 Feb 25 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 101
PREM19/367 Social Services (Taxation of short term benefits, supplementary benefits and strikers' benefits; financial treatment of strikers and their families) (Part 3) Begins: 1980 Feb 26 Ends: 1980 Jul 1 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 111
PREM19/1963 Social Services (The maternity grant) Begins: 1979 Dec 21 Ends: 1986 Mar 5 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/1637 Social Services (Unemployment benefit: benefit limit; Family Income Supplement; taxation of social security benefits, supplementary benefits and strikers' benefits) (Part 4) Begins: 1980 Jun 18 Ends: 1984 Nov 26 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 201
PREM19/920 Social services (Uprating of social security benefits) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 17 Ends: 1980 Jan 10 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 79

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