Page last updated at 16:07 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008 17:07 UK

Cross benches

In the House of Lords several rows of benches are situated in the middle of the chamber.

A to Z: Crossbench Peers

These benches separate the main government and opposition frontbenches and are known as cross benches.

Peers who are not members of any particular political party, or who do not, for any reason, take the party whip, sit on the cross benches of the House and are referred to as crossbenchers.

Convenor

As they do not have a party line, cross bench peers do not have a leader but by tradition the most recent Commons Speaker to have joined the Lords acts as their convenor for administrative purposes.

However, this is not currently the case - Baroness D'Souza, an academic who did not serve in the Commons before entering the Lords, has been convenor of the crossbench peers since 2007.

The Bishops and Archbishops in the Lords do not sit on the cross benches but are also uncommitted to any political party.



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