An MP has launched a campaign to stop boffins dealing class A drugs to mice.

In the past ten years nearly 200 studies have been published into the harmful effects of illegal substances such as ecstasy, cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines on animals.

They include a study by researchers at the University of Sussex into the addictive properties of cocaine.

Nationally, some of the research involved subjecting animals to lethal doses, electric shocks, loud noise, repeated abdominal injections and brain surgery - and much of it was funded by Government or the Medical Research Council.

Now Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, has tabled a Parliamentary motion calling on the Government to stop granting licences for "harmful experiments" on animals which are aimed at investigating the effects of recreational drugs.

The early day motion states that much of the animal research duplicates findings obtained from human studies.

It urges ministers to reallocate funding to "safe and ethical volunteer studies" in humans and to improving drug rehabilitation facilities.

The motion, which is supported by six MPs in total, follows a report by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) which details several of the tests carried out over the past ten years.

One of the studies, undertaken by the University of Birmingham, involved injecting cannabis into the stomachs of 32 food-deprived rats to see if they got the munchies.

For the Sussex University study, carried out in 2002 and published in academic journal Neuropharmacology, genetically modified mice were 'rewarded' with injections of either cocaine or morphine when they pressed a lever.

BUAV's report, Creatures of Habit - Animals in Recreational Drug Research, concludes that "the use of animals in this kind of research is ethically insupportable".

But a Home Office spokeswoman said: "The BUAV's call for a ban on research using these drugs is misguided.

"As there is a significant drug addiction problem, studies using these drugs to explore the causes and effects of addiction and how it might best be treated are entirely legitimate and permissible under the 1986 Act."

The Animals Act 1986 states that animal experiments may be conducted only if here is no realistic alternative.