Lib Dem MP Norman Baker has called for an end of all animal testing taking place in the United Kingdom.
Baker, the minister in charge of regulating animal experiments in the UK, has been a long time anti-vivisection campaigner.
Explaining that a complete ban ‘would not happen overnight’ he added that he believes the government was ‘moving in the right direction’.
The coalition is committed to reducing the number of live animal experiments – but animal rights campaigners say they have broken that promise.
Mr Baker, who as crime prevention minister at the Home Office has responsibility for regulating the use of animals in science, said he was trying to persuade the industry to accept the economic case for ending tests.
“I am firmly of the belief it is not simply a moral issue but that we as a nation can get a strategic advantage from this – something that will be good for the economy,” Mr Baker told BBC News.
“I have been encouraging the industry to come up with alternatives to animal testing.”
The scientific community says research on live animals is vital to understanding disease and has resulted in new vaccines and also treatments for cancer, Parkinson’s disease, asthma and HIV – but opponents say it is cruel and pointless, as alternative research methods are available.
Mr Baker has also promised legislation before the next election to increase transparency – potentially giving the public the chance to obtain details about what happens to animals in laboratories.