The merits of animal testing at places such as the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Mill Hill will come under the microscope during a Green Party conference this month.

Noel Lynch, a Green Party London Assembly member from East Finchley, will be joined by a host of top scientists at the meeting, entitled Establishing London as a Leading Centre for Non-animal Medical Research.

Scientists at the NIMR in The Ridgeway use animals such as mice, rats, frogs and flies for their research into diseases ranging from malaria to tuberculosis.

Drive past the institute on a Wednesday night and you will see that their work is not approved of by everybody. The Mill Hill Anti-Vivisection Alliance continues to protest against what it claims is the cruel practice of using animals for medical research.

It is a view shared by Mr Lynch, of East Finchley, and his Green Party colleagues. "We believe that a lot of the medical research being done nowadays is from Victorian times. With the developments in science there isn't really a need for vivisection and research on animals," he said.

But Mr Lynch refused to condone extreme animal right activists who harass and intimidate workers at places like the NIMR and Huntingdon Life Sciences, which has research centres in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk where drugs are tested on animals.

"We approve of any non-violent protest against animal testing. We no more approve of violence against animals than we do violence against humans. But I see no problem with exposing companies that are involved with it animal testing and companies that are helping them," added Mr Lynch.

Dr Michael Sargent, a staff scientist at the NIMR, said: "All our work is research work devoted to particular research projects. We are not testing animals for cosmetics or anything like that.

"The work we do on animals is absolutely necessary for the projects that we do and it has all been approved by Home Office inspectors and it is an incredibly rigorous procedure.

"We have lay people on a panel that consider all the ethics of it. Every project has to have a review by an ethics committee. We consider how many animals are going to be used, whether they will have any unnatural treatment that is not approved which of course the answer is they won't.

"They have got to be anaesthetised properly or killed properly if that is the end of the experiment all of that stuff is regulated absolutely precisely."

The Green Party conference is on March 19 from 2pm until 4.30pm at City Hall in Southwark. Admission is by list only. To reserve your place call Orla Hurst on 020 7983 4411.