Records of Crossbench Peers
To see this item in our search room please contact us: email@example.com
- Held At: Parliamentary Archives: GB-061
- Catalogue Reference: CBP
- Date: 1965-2007
- Level: Fonds
- Extent: 6 boxes: 16 series (containing 90 files)
- Creator Name: Crossbench Peers; 17th century-
- Administrative or Biographical History: The Crossbench Peers got their name from the layout of the House of Lords chamber. Whereas in the House of Commons the benches are arranged along opposing sides of the chamber, the Lords also has benches running across the chamber at right-angles to the main benches. Originally the Lords sat in strict order of precedence, with the Lords Spiritual to the right of the throne and the Lords Temporal to the left of the throne. The cross benches were created in response to the increasing number of peers and had been installed by the seventeenth-century primarily for the Viscounts and Barons. By the nineteenth century the Lords had broadly adopted the Commons custom of having the Government supporters on one side of the chamber (to the right of the throne), with opposition parties facing them on the other side (to the left of the throne). The Lords Spiritual continue to sit on the right of the throne on the first two benches. The cross benches remain for those who have no party allegiance.
The numbers of Crossbench Peers steadily increased in the post-war period, and peaked at over 300 prior to the 1999 House of Lords Act, which ended the automatic right of Hereditary Peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords. However they still make up a substantial grouping, with their numbers in 2003 standing at 179.
The Crossbench Peers are not a party or formal group. They have no collective policy positions, but sit and vote as individuals. They have a meeting once a week, where they can discuss common issues or matters of interest, but there is no obligation to attend. Occasionally a speaker will address the meeting on a matter of current interest. A Crossbench Peer can vote any way they want on any an issue, or indeed not vote at all. They also receive a weekly notice of forthcoming business, but no whip is ever issued. Time is allocated in each session to Crossbench Peers for debates on subjects of their choosing. They are also given proportionate representation on House of Lords committees.
Peers sit on the cross benches for a variety of reasons. New Peers may wish to gain experience before choosing a party, some hold a post where it would be inappropriate to reveal a party loyalty, or they may have an active life outside the House and so can only attend infrequently when they feel their specialist knowledge would allow them to contribute. The majority of Crossbench Peers remain so out of conviction that they wish to remain independent from the political parties. However there is some movement both from the parties to the cross benches and vice versa.
The Crossbench Peers do not have a leader as with the political parties, instead they elect a convenor to look after their interests in the House of Lords. It has become established practice for the convenor to be nominated by the House of Lords as a member of the Committee of Selection, and to sit on select committees concerned with the running of the House. The convenor is entitled to speak on all formal occasions with the party Leaders, and is permitted to present a Humble Address to Her Majesty.
The Crossbench Peers do not have a leader as with the political parties, instead they elect a convenor to look after their interests in the House of Lords. It has become established practice for the convenor to be nominated by the House of Lords as a member of the Committee of Selection, and to sit on select committees concerned with the running of the House. The convenor is entitled to speak on all formal occasions with the party Leaders, and is permitted to present a Humble Address to Her Majesty. The Crossbench Peers have had five convenors: Lord Strang of Stonefield (1973-1974); Baroness Hylton-Foster (1974-1995); Lord Weatherill (1995-1999); Lord Craig of Radley (1999-2004), Lord Williamson, July 2004-2007, Baroness D'Souza, 2007-2011, Lord Laming 2011-.
- Acquisition: Accession 3709, deposited by Baroness Hylton-Foster, July 2000. Accession 5108, deposited by Leanne Davis, October 2008
- Description: The records of Crossbench Peers consist of meeting papers from the Crossbench Peers weekly meetings, 1974-2000; papers giving details of fact finding visits made by Crossbench Peers to various places and organisations, 1985-1989; papers relating to the organisation of summer and Christmas parties for the Crossbench Peers, 1991-1999; correspondence and questions relating to visits made by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition to the Crossbench Peers weekly meeting, 1993-1998; correspondence and articles on the history of the House of Lords and the Crossbench Peers, 1978-1996; papers relating to the office of Convenor of the Crossbench Peers and to former convenors Lord Strang and Lady Hylton-Foster, 1974-1997; correspondence on a variety of issues of interest to Crossbench Peers, 1970-1992; leaflets on the Nuclear Power Industry, presscuttings and details of visits made by Crossbench Peers to Dounray Power Station, 1977-1980; lists of Crossbench Peers with interests and experience, lists of Crossbench attendance, and statistics on Crossbench Peers, 1965-1990; notes on the establishing of the Crossbench Peers weekly meeting, 1971; copy of 'When the Wind Blows' book and related correspondence, 1982; papers on the Leader's Group: Working Practices; papers titled Usual Channels referring to a wide range of subjects, staff and procedure issues; papers on the composition of the Crossbench; papers on the Leaders Committee; Papers on Working Practices
- Appraisal Information: Appraised in line with House of Lords Record Office practice
- Accruals: More accruals possible
- Language: English
- System of Arrangement: The material is arranged into sixteen series.
The series are as follows:
CBP/1 Meeting Papers
CBP/2 Visits by Crossbench Peers
CBP/3 The Crossbench Annual Summer and Christmas Parties
CBP/4 Papers relating to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition
CBP/5 Historical Notes
CBP/6 Crossbench Peers Convenor
CBP/8 Nuclear Power Industry
CBP/10 Papers relating to Crossbench Peers
CBP/11 When the Wind Blows book
CBP/12 Leader's Group: Working Practices
CBP/13 Usual Channels
CBP/14 Crossbench Composition
CBP/15 Leaders Committee
CBP/16 Working Practices
- Related Material: No related units
- Access Status: Open
- Reproduction Conditions: All records are Parliamentary copyright
- Physical Description: There are no physical characteristics that affect the use of this material
- Copies Exist: No known copies
- Originals Exist: This material is original