Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A cross-bencher is a member of the British House of Lords who is not aligned to any particular party. These include the Law Lords and former Speakers of the House of Commons, such as Lady Boothroyd and Lord Weatherill, who by convention are not aligned with either party. They are termed cross-benchers because they sit on neither the government benches nor the opposition benches but on benches that are perpendicular to the other sets and face the throne.
In November, 2003 there were 179 cross-benchers. They do not take a collective position on issues, although they do elect from among themselves a Convenor for administrative purposes. The current Convenor is Lord Williamson of Horton . The Convenor keeps them up-to-date with the business of the House. Although the Lords Spiritual (Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England) also have no party affiliation, they do not sit on the cross-benches.
The cross-benchers are often viewed as bringing specialist knowledge to the House, since they have usually been created peers for reasons other than party-political affiliation. Most of them (146) are Life Peers.
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