Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Friday, 14 December 2012
The Week in Parliament: 14 December 2012

Independent Scotland 'must reapply to the EU'

Where next for Scottish independence?

On 9 December José Manuel Barroso told the BBC it was "obvious" that if one part of a member state became a separate country then it would have to apply for EU membership.

This indicates that Scotland would have to negotiate its terms of entry to the EU from scratch, contrary to claims made by Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond.

And there is no guarantee that Scotland could retain the UK's opt-outs from the euro, the Schengen free movement agreement and Margaret Thatcher's rebate if they vote for independence in the 2014 referendum.

Billy Hill outlines the key points before BBC Scotland's Political Correspondent joins Alicia McCarthy to discuss what's next for the SNP and the pro-independence campaign.

Repealing ancient laws

How do we get rid of useless laws?

Parliament has never been a place to let go of old practices. You're more likely to hear Norman French in the chamber than an MP's first name.

But on Monday ministers in the House of Lords backed a move to abolish the rarely-used 18th century offence of "scandalising the judiciary" - which had recently hit the headlines following the attempted prosecution of former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain over a passage in his memoirs which criticised a judge.

This bit of spring cleaning was then dwarfed on Wednesday when the House of Lords backed the Statute Laws (Repeals) Bill, axing more than 800 obsolete laws.

But just who has the job of weeding out laws we no longer need - and how do they do it?

The Week in Parliament's Sam Francis spoke to Head of Statute Repeals at the Law Commission of England and Wales, John Saunders, to find out.

Watch The Week in Parliament on BBC Parliament at 11pm on Friday 14 December, 11.05am on Sunday 16 December and 9am on Monday 17 December.

To watch the programme on iPlayer, visit the programme page.

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