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Tories' financial chiefs named

SIR Philip Harris, founder of the Harris carpets empire, and Sir David Sieff, the Marks & Spencer director, were among businessmen named yesterday as key figures in Conservative Central Office's drive to wipe out its pounds 19m overdraft.

Others coming to the aid of the party as members of its new board of treasurers are Sir Malcolm Chaplin, a member of the executive of the National Union, the party's voluntary wing; David Davies, chairman of Johnson Matthey plc; Sir Nigel Mobbs, chairman of Slough Estates plc; Tim Smith MP, an accountant and party vice-chairman; and Anthony Weldon, a director of N P Record plc.

Charles Hambro, chairman of Hambros plc and senior Tory party treasurer, will chair the board. Sir Philip, chairman and chief executive of Carpetright plc, is to be his deputy.

The board was created in February with the express function of boosting party income by supervising and organising fund-raising.

Sir Malcolm and Mr Smith apart, board members hold numerous additional company directorships. They will be expected to exploit their considerable connections and influence to ensure that the 1996 target for balancing Central Office's books is met.

Sir Norman Fowler, the party chairman, said yesterday that while Central Office spending no longer exceeded income, the pounds 19m deficit had still to be tackled.