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By David Milliken LONDON (Reuters) - Chancellor George Osborne said on Sunday that he intends to sell billions of pounds of government shares in Lloyds Banking Group to small investors if his Conservative Party wins the May 7 election. Britain's government put more than 20 billion pounds of public money into Lloyds at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 - buying 43 percent of the bank - and has since sold almost half of this back to large investors. The move harks back to the privatisation of Britain's state telecoms and gas monopolies in the 1980s under former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which aimed to encourage ordinary Britons to invest in the stock market. With opinion polls published overnight showing the opposition Labour Party level with the Conservatives, Prime Minister David Cameron is expected later on Sunday to promote the planned sale as a sign of Britain's recovery from the financial crisis.