A TV satire show called Le Iene (The Hyenas) secretly tested 50 Italian MPs for drugs and it found that one in three had taken either cannabis or cocaine in the previous 36 hours.

The Hyenas' television show, which airs on the Berlusconi-owned Mediaset network, is famous for pranks on ordinary citizens and public officials alike.

While pretending to interview MPs on next year's budget, a fake make-up artist carried out drug-wipe tests with the excuse of wiping the "sweaty" foreheads for filming purposes.

The scoop was prevented from being aired on television by Italy's privacy authority after receiving a flood of protests from irate MPs. Le Iene insist that it would not have been a violation of privacy as the identity of the "guilty" MPs would not have been disclosed.

There are many other MPs, however, who are in favour of airing the report.

Almost as embarrassing for MPs was another feature in the same programme.

When asked "Where is Guantanamo?" an MP replied "In Iraq or Afghanistan" while more than one MP thought that Nelson Mandela was South American and others did not know why he had won a Nobel peace prize.

Other questions that caused confusion among the members of parliament were about Darfur one MP defined it as things done in a hurry while some were clueless as to the role of Consob, the stock exchange watchdog.

A member of Italy's Green Party has suggested that a general knowledge course should be introduced while another has suggested drug testing on all MPs.