Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 11:18 UK

Friday in Westminster

Today in Parliament & Yesterday in Parliament
By Sean Curran
Programme Editor

Photo of Big Ben and signpost
Radio 4 guides you around Westminster

What is it that makes a dog dangerous? Lawmakers have been trying to answer that question for more than a hundred years.

The Dogs Act of 1871 was an early attempt to sort out what we would now call "anti-social behaviour" by dogs and their owners.

The most notorious change in the law came in 1991 when parliament passed the Dangerous Dogs Act.

This was a response to a series of high profile dog attacks. It banned a number of breeds of dog including the pitbull terrier. But ever since it's been criticised for being an example of knee-jerk lawmaking which doesn't solve the problem it's meant to address.

For years the Kennel Club and the RSPCA have argued that the big problem with the law is that it deals with breeds of dog rather than bad behaviour.

As regular listeners will know, the Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Redesdale, is a man who strikes fear into the heart of grey squirrels (or at least those who listen to Today in Parliament).

He has long argued that grey squirrels must be culled in order to save Britain's native red squirrel population.

In the past Lord Redesdale has boasted about killing more than 20,000 grey squirrels on his country estate in Northumberland.

But he has a soft spot for dogs. Arguing in favour of his Dog Control Bill in the House of Lords today, Lord Redesdale, called for the repeal of the Dangerous Dogs Act which he described as "one of the worst pieces of legislation passed through Parliament for a very long time".

His proposals would make dog owners responsible for the behaviour of their animals regardless of their breed. The government isn't keen though and says Lord Redesdale's plans wouldn't work.

You can hear how he got on in tonight's programme.

We'll also be reporting on the aftermath of this week's Budget and getting the reaction of senior politicians to one of the biggest events on the parliamentary calendar.

And looking ahead we'll gauge the prospects for a deal on MPs' expenses following Gordon Brown's so-called "You Tube U-Turn".

Tune in to Today in Parliament on BBC Radio 4 tonight at 2330 and Yesterday in Parliament tomorrow morning at 0831 on Radio 4 Long Wave and digital radio.

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