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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Cameron on menu if price is right
David Cameron
The scheme is "one of seven or eight donor clubs", the Tories said
Senior business figures have been invited to pay thousands of pounds to join a club offering dinners and phone calls with Tory leader David Cameron.

They can arrange regular meetings, with the amount of contact varying according to their financial contributions.

The "completely transparent" scheme was "very similar" to activities organised by Labour, a party spokesman said.

Details emerged as Mr Cameron called for a "clean-up" in British politics to encourage greater trust in MPs.

He claimed on Friday that people felt politicians "feathered their own nests" and cost too much money.

'Not a secret'

Between 60 and 70 businessmen have joined the Conservatives' Leader's Club, which has a three levels of subscription - 50,000, 25,000 and 10,000 - according to the Daily Telegraph.

But the existence of the club was "not a secret" as the paper had claimed, a spokesman told reporters at a press briefing on its annual conference which gets underway in Bournemouth at the weekend.

"It's one of seven or eight donor clubs set up under Michael Howard, completely transparent," the spokesman added.

Labour has a group called the Thousand Club, to which "hundreds of individuals" have donated, according to the party's annual report in 2005.

Supporters contribute between 1,000 and 5,000 annually to the party and are "a crucial source of funding", the report added.

In July, accounts submitted to the Electoral Commission revealed the Conservatives owed 18m following the 2005 general election.

Labour was 27m in the red while the Lib Dems' annual losses totalled 207,000.


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