Page last updated at 11:00 GMT, Wednesday, 13 April 2011 12:00 UK
Seating in the Commons

MPs sit in the House of Commons according to their political ideology and power in the chamber.

A to Z: Who sits where?

The government sits on the green leather benches to the right of the Speaker while the opposition sit on the benches to the left of the speaker.

The ministers occupy the front bench, known as the Treasury Bench, while the shadow team sit on the opposite front bench and both speak from a despatch box.

The benches are separated by a walkway known as the gangway.

The Liberal Democrats, now in coalition with the Conservatives, have moved from the bench below the gangway on the opposition side to the same bench on the government side.

The other parties now occupy the opposition benches below the gangways; Alliance, SDLP, DUP, Green Party, SNP and Plaid Cymru.

Backbenchers are the members of a party who hold no ministerial or shadow ministerial office.

They are particularly adept at holding their party leaders to account, particularly the "awkward squads" from each of the largest parties.

Interestingly there is only space for 427 of the 650 MPs to sit down.




More from BBC Democracy Live
Compare who does what across the UK and Europe
Our A-Z of words used in the business of politics
Discover what BBC Democracy Live has to offer you

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific