Prime Minister’s Office files (PREM)

In this release

Immigration

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/1800

Date range: 2 September 1982 – 27 March 1986

This file begins in September 1982 amidst a discussion between Norman Tebbit, the Secretary of State for Employment and Willie Whitelaw, the Home Secretary, reacting to changes in Australian rules, which had allowed young adults to stay for a number of years on a working holidaymaker scheme. However, Australia had limited the period to a single year and apparently imposed an unpublished quota system, leading Tebbit to suggest a similar restriction should be applied by the UK, a point rejected by Whitelaw and the Prime Minister.

A paper was created by the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office detailed immigration control attempts regarding foreign political activists in the United Kingdom, and was shared in November 1984. The file ends with a discussion during the spring of 1986 in which various Cabinet ministers voiced their opinions on the possibility of amending rules on rights for those in polygamous marriages, in the run up to the Family Law Bill.

Falklands Inquiry

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/1883 

Date range: 24 June 1982 – 16 July 1986

This file covers the House of Commons Defence Committee inquiry into the handling of public and press information during the Falklands War. There is particular focus on the question of whether members of the Prime Minister’s Office should give oral evidence before the committee.

Information and publicity

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/2262

Date range: 11-20 January 1988

This file is concerned with a proposal that a separate press office be established for the Attorney General, whose press enquiries were at the time dealt with by the Prime Minister’s office. The proposal was made by No. 10 in light of the media attention government litigations, particularly cases against Spycatcher the autobiography of former British intelligence officer Peter Wright. The Attorney General’s office was not keen on the proposal and it was not carried forward.

Poland

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/23852386 

Date range: 29 March – 17 December 1988

These files deal with the Prime Minister’s visit to Poland in November 1988. They begin with the reaction from Sir James Clemison’s visit to the Pozan Trade Fair in June. The files go on to detail the negotiations behind the visit, particularly relating to Thatcher’s desire to visit Gdansk. They document the rapidly changing situation in Poland including the appointment of Mieczysław Rakowski as Prime Minister and the closure of the Lenin Shipyard. The files also contain reports of the meetings held by Thatcher during her visit with key figures from both the government and Solidarity movement.