A crossbencher is an independent or minor party member of some legislatures, such as the British House of Lords and the Parliament of Australia. They take their name from the crossbenches, between and perpendicular to the government and opposition benches, where crossbenchers sit in the chamber.
Crossbench members of the British House of Lords are not aligned to any particular party. Until 2009, these included the Law Lords appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876. In addition, former Speakers of the House of Commons (such as Lord Martin of Springburn and Baroness Boothroyd) and former Lord Speakers of the House of Lords (such as Baroness Hayman and Baroness D'Souza), who by convention are not aligned with any party, also sit as crossbenchers. There are also some non-affiliated members of the House of Lords who are not part of the crossbencher group; this includes some officers, such as the Lord Speaker, and others who are associated with a party but have had the whip withdrawn. Although non-affiliated members, and members of small parties, sometimes physically sit on the crossbenches, they are not members of the crossbench parliamentary group.
An "increasing number" of crossbenchers have been created peers for non-political reasons. Since its establishment in May 2000, the House of Lords Appointments Commission has nominated a total of 67 non-party-political life peers who joined the House of Lords as crossbenchers.
There are currently 182 crossbenchers, composing approximately 23% of the sitting members in the House of Lords and making them the third largest parliamentary group after the Conservative and Labour parties. From April 2007 to 2009, the number of crossbenchers was higher than the number of Conservatives in the Lords for the first time.
Although the Lords Spiritual (archbishops and senior bishops of the Church of England) also have no party affiliation, they are not considered crossbenchers and do not sit on the crossbenches, their seats being on the Government side of the Lords Chamber.
Parties supporting a minority government in a confidence and supply agreement in the House of Commons, such as the Democratic Unionist Party in the current Parliament, are not considered crossbenchers. Instead, along with all other non-governing parties, they are considered part of the opposition and sit on the opposition benches.
The crossbenchers do not take a collective position on issues, and so have no whips; however, they do elect from among themselves a convenor for administrative purposes, and to keep them up to date with the business of the House. The current convenor is David Hope, Baron Hope of Craighead, who took the office in September 2015. While convenors are not part of the "usual channels" (i.e. the party whips who decide the business of the House), they have been included in their discussions in recent years.
The following have served as Convenor of the Crossbenchers:
The term "crossbencher" is generally not used for the Canadian Parliament or any of the provincial or territorial legislatures. Instead, any party that is not the governing party is an opposition party, with the largest of these designated the official opposition (and their leader is designated Leader of the Opposition). Opposition parties other than the official opposition are typically called third parties, a term derived from American politics. Third parties and independents sit on the opposition side of the chamber, even if they are supporting a minority government, unless they are part of a coalition government.
Parties require a certain number of seats to have official party status for procedural purposes (the minimum is 12 seats for the federal House of Commons). Although parties without official party status behave like political parties, their members are treated as individual members.
Third parties have been common in Canadian legislatures since the 1920s. In particular, legislatures often contain members of an ideological party, such as a labour-based party (Progressive Party, Labour Party, CCF, NDP) or a right-wing party (Socreds, Reform Party, Wildrose Party).
Beginning in 2016, the Independent Senators Group was formed in the Senate of Canada, fulfilling a similar purpose as crossbenchers. The ISG was created partly as a response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to appoint more non-partisan Senators. Similar to crossbenchers in the UK, the group has chosen a leader, and does not use a whipping system. In December 2016 the Senate began to officially recognise the group and provide it with funding. Given the relative newness of the group, exactly how it operates when compared to crossbenchers in the UK or elsewhere remains to be seen.
The term refers to both independent and minor party members in the Federal Parliament of Australia as well as the Parliaments of the Australian states and territories. Unlike the United Kingdom, in Australia the term is applied to those parties and independents in both the lower and upper houses of parliament, who sit on the crossbench.
The last few federal elections have seen an increase in the size and power of the crossbench in both houses of Parliament. The Australian Parliament as elected at the 2010 election was the first hung parliament in the House of Representatives since the election of 1940, with the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition winning 72 seats each of 150 total. Six crossbenchers held the balance of power: Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent MPs Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor declared their support for Labor on confidence and supply, independent MP Bob Katter and National Party of Western Australia MP Tony Crook declared their support for the Coalition on confidence and supply. The resulting 76–74 margin entitled Labor to form a minority government.
The Australian Senate, which uses the Single Transferable Vote form of proportional representation to elect its 76-seat chamber, frequently has a number of Senators on the crossbench that the governing party has to negotiate with to get legislation passed. The 2 July 2016 double dissolution election, for example resulted in a chamber with the Liberal/National Coalition having 30 seats, the Australian Labor Party with 26 seats, the Greens with 9 seats, One Nation with 4 seats and the Nick Xenophon Team with 3 seats. The other 4 seats were each won by Derryn Hinch, the Liberal Democratic Party, Family First, and Jacqui Lambie. The number of crossbenchers increased by two to a record 20. The Liberal/National Coalition government required at least nine additional votes to reach a Senate majority.
Generally speaking, Senators broadly aligned with the government, such as those affiliated with the Australian Conservatives, One Nation, the Liberal Democratic Party, and Derryn Hinch, sit on the same side of the crossbench as the government benches, while those more aligned with the opposition, such as the Greens, sit on the same side of the crossbench as the opposition benches. This tends not to be the case in the House of Representatives, both due to the different electoral system, which means fewer crossbenchers are elected, and the fact that the official government and opposition frontbenches extend across the inner rim of the entire hemicycle.
In the New Zealand House of Representatives, MPs from parties that are not openly aligned with either the government or the official opposition (such as those belonging to New Zealand First between 2011 until 2017) are sometimes referred to as crossbenchers.
Unlike in Britain, Canada and Australia, MPs from minor parties that support the government in confidence and supply agreements are regarded as part of the government and sit on the government benches, often receiving official roles as ministers outside the cabinet or as parliamentary under-secretaries. From 2008 to 2017, ACT New Zealand, Māori Party and United Future MPs supported the minority National Party government. These MPs were not considered to be crossbenchers or part of the opposition, as they were represented within the government.
Alan Henry Brooke, 3rd Viscount Brookeborough, (born 30 June 1952) is a Northern Irish peer and landowner. He is one of the 92 hereditary peers who remain in the House of Lords; he sits as a crossbencher. He is the current Lord Lieutenant of Fermanagh.Baron Moran
Baron Moran, of Manton in the County of Wiltshire, is a title in the peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 8 March 1943 for the physician Charles Wilson (10 November 1882 – 12 April 1977). He is chiefly remembered as Winston Churchill's personal physician during the Second World War and was president of the Royal College of Physicians from 1941 to 1949. His diary of his association with Churchill—that continued to Winston's death in 1965—was published in 1966.He was succeeded in 1977 by his eldest son, the second baron, a diplomat who notably served as British Ambassador to Hungary and Portugal and as British High Commissioner to Canada from 1981 to 1984. He was one of the 90 hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, where he sat as a crossbencher.
In 2014 the title passed to the latter's son, James McMoran Wilson, the 3rd Baron Moran.Baron Russell of Liverpool
Baron Russell of Liverpool, of Liverpool in the County Palatine of Lancaster, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1919 for Sir Edward Russell. He served as editor of the Liverpool Daily Post for almost fifty years and also briefly represented Glasgow Bridgeton in the House of Commons as a Liberal.His three sons predeceased him. His grandson, the second Baron, was a prominent lawyer and author who earned the Military Cross in the First World War. As Deputy Judge Advocate General to the British Army of the Rhine he was one of the chief legal advisers during the war crimes trials held in Nuremberg and Tokyo at the end of the Second World War.As of 2017, the title is held by his grandson, the third Baron, who succeeded in 1981. He serves as an elected hereditary peer in the House of Lords having been elected at a by election in December 2014. He sits as a Crossbencher.David Pannick, Baron Pannick
David Philip Pannick, Baron Pannick, QC (born 7 March 1956) is a leading barrister in the United Kingdom, and crossbencher in the House of Lords. He practises mainly in the areas of public law and human rights. He argued 100 cases before the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords before its replacement by the new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in October 2009, has argued more than 30 cases in the European Court of Justice, and more than 30 cases before the European Court of Human Rights.Francis Hare, 6th Earl of Listowel
Francis Michael Hare, 6th Earl of Listowel (born 28 June 1964), styled Viscount Ennismore until 1997, is an Irish and British peer. He first sat in the Lords by right of his United Kingdom peerage of Baron Hare and is now one of the ninety hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, where he sits as a crossbencher.
Lord Listowel is a member of the Ascendancy, the old Anglo-Irish ruling class.
The son of William Hare, 5th Earl of Listowel and Pamela Mollie Day, and nephew of John Hare, 1st Viscount Blakenham, he was educated at Westminster School and Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, where he graduated with a BA degree in English literature in 1992. In 1997, he succeeded to his father's titles. The earldom is named after Listowel, a town in the north of County Kerry in Ireland.John Anderson, 3rd Viscount Waverley
John Desmond Forbes Anderson, 3rd Viscount Waverley (born 31 October 1949) is a British peer.
The son of the 2nd Viscount Waverley and his wife Lorna Ledgerwood, he was educated at Malvern College.Lord Waverley was first married to Anne Suzette Davidson in 1969. He then married Ursula Helen Barrow in 1994.He succeeded to his father's titles in 1990. He is one of the ninety hereditary peers in the House of Lords elected to remain after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, sitting as a crossbencher.He takes a particular interest in the central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, and works as a consultant to the Middle East Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC). He has been honoured with a Yoruba Chieftaincy in Nigeria and received State decorations from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Colombia.Lord Waverley has set up the website Parliament Revealed, to explain the workings of the UK Parliament.John Boyle, 15th Earl of Cork
John Richard Boyle, 15th Earl of Cork and 15th Earl of Orrery (born 3 November 1945) is a British hereditary peer and a member of the House of Lords, where he sits as a Crossbencher. Boyle was an officer in the Royal Navy before inheriting his titles in 2003.John Walton, Baron Walton of Detchant
John Nicholas Walton, Baron Walton of Detchant Kt (16 September 1922 – 21 April 2016) was a British neuroscientist, academic, and life peer who sat in the House of Lords as a crossbencher.Khalid Hameed, Baron Hameed
Khalid Hameed, Baron Hameed, CBE, DL (born 1 July 1941) is the Chairman of Alpha Hospital Group, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the London International Hospital. Prior to this, he was the Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer of the Cromwell Hospital in London. He hails from Lucknow, India.
He chairs the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council. He is a Board member of the British Muslim Research Centre, and also the Ethnic Minorities Foundation. He is an Executive member of the Maimonides Foundation and a Trustee of The Little Foundation. He received a CBE in the 2004 New Year's Honours. Dr Hameed supports various charities and was awarded the Sternberg Award for 2005 for his contribution to further Christian - Muslim - Jewish Relations. He has received several national and international honours from various countries including the United Kingdom. He is a Governor of International Students House; President of The Little Foundation; Chairman of The Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths, and is a Vice-President of the Friends of the British Library.He is involved with inter-religious matters and lectures on this subject.
He was appointed by Her Majesty the Queen as the first Asian High Sheriff of Greater London for the year 2006-2007. This office is 1,000 years old and is the second oldest office in the country after the monarchy.
In February 2007, it was announced by the House of Lords Appointments Commission that he will be made a life peer and will sit as a Crossbencher. The peerage was gazetted on 27 March 2007 as Baron Hameed, of Hampstead in the London Borough of Camden.
He was also named British Asian of the year 2007.
He was awarded Padma Shri in 1992 and the Padma Bhushan, "third in hierarchy of civilian awards", by the Government of India in 2009. He was the chief guest at Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas 2010 held in New Delhi.
He is married to Dr Ghazala Afzal, who was appointed High Sheriff of Greater London for 2015-16.List of Northern Ireland members of the House of Lords
This is a list of Members of the United Kingdom House of Lords who were born, live or lived in Northern Ireland.
This list does not include hereditary peers who have lost their seat in the Lords following the House of Lords Act 1999, or those in the Peerage of Ireland, who have never had an automatic right to a seat in the House of Lords at Westminster.Note: There is no such thing as the Peerage of Northern Ireland and peers do not represent geographic areas as such. Some do, however, choose titles which reflect geographical localities, e.g. Lord Kilclooney, this is, however, entirely nominal.Martha Lane Fox
Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, CBE (born 10 February 1973) is a British businesswoman, philanthropist and public servant.
Lady Lane-Fox is founder and executive chair of Doteveryone.org.uk, an independent think tank and charity championing responsible technology for a fairer future.
Lane Fox co-founded Last Minute during the dotcom boom of the early 2000s and has subsequently served on public service digital projects. She sits on the boards of Twitter, Donmar Warehouse and Chanel, as well as being a trustee of The Queens Commonwealth Trust. She previously served on the board of Channel 4.She entered the House of Lords as a crossbencher on 26 March 2013, becoming its youngest female member, and was appointed Chancellor of the Open University on 12 March 2014.She serves as convenor of More United, a cross-party political movement.Robert Rogers, Baron Lisvane
Robert James Rogers, Lord Lisvane (born 5 February 1950) is a British life peer and retired public servant. He served as Clerk of the House of Commons from October 2011 until August 2014.Following his elevation as a Life Peer in 2014, Lisvane became a member of the House of Lords, where he sits as a crossbencher.
He is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Constitution Reform Group, a cross-party pressure group which is chaired by Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury, and which seeks a new constitutional settlement in the UK by way of the Act of Union Bill 2018. Lord Lisvane introduced the Bill as a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Lords on 9 October 2018, when it received a formal first reading.Robert Walker, Baron Walker of Gestingthorpe
Robert Walker, Baron Walker of Gestingthorpe, PC (born 17 March 1938) is an English barrister and former Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. He also serves as a Non-Permanent Judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.He sits in the House of Lords as a crossbencher.Viscount Allenby
Viscount Allenby, of Megiddo and of Felixstowe in the County of Suffolk, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 7 October 1919 for the prominent military commander Field Marshal Sir Edmund Allenby, with remainder, in default of male issue of his own, to his younger brother Captain Frederick Claude Hynman Allenby and his heirs male lawfully begotten. The first Viscount's son was killed in action on the Western Front in 1917.
He was succeeded according to the special remainder by his nephew, the second Viscount. The latter's son, the third Viscount, who succeeded in 1984 was one of the ninety elected hereditary peers that remain in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, and sat as a crossbencher. As of 2017, the title is held by his son, the 4th Viscount, who succeeded in 2014.
The family seat is Newham Lodge, near Hook, Hampshire.Viscount Bledisloe
Viscount Bledisloe, of Lydney in the County of Gloucestershire, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1935 for the Conservative politician Charles Bathurst, 1st Baron Bledisloe, upon his retirement as Governor-General of New Zealand. He had already been created Baron Bledisloe, of Lydney in the County of Gloucestershire, in 1918, also in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. Bathurst was the great-grandson and namesake of the early-19th-century politician Charles Bathurst. The latter was the son of Charles Bragge and Anne Bathurst, granddaughter of Sir Benjamin Bathurst, younger brother of Allen Bathurst, 1st Earl Bathurst. In 1804, Charles Bathurst assumed the surname of Bathurst in lieu of Bragge. The first Viscount's grandson, third Viscount, was one of the ninety elected hereditary peers that were allowed to remain in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, and sat as a crossbencher until his death. He was also a member of the Lords Constitution Committee. As of 2017 the titles are held by his son, the fourth Viscount, who succeeded in 2009.
The family seat is Lydney Park, near Lydney, Gloucestershire.Viscount Colville of Culross
Viscount Colville of Culross, in the County of Perth, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 15 July 1902 for the politician and courtier, Charles Colville, 10th Lord Colville of Culross. He had already been created Baron Colville of Culross, in the County of Perth, in 1885, also in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. As of 2018, the titles are held by his great-great-grandson, the fifth Viscount, who succeeded his father in 2010. The fourth Viscount was a judge and politician. Lord Colville of Culross was one of the ninety elected hereditary peers that remained in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, and sat as a crossbencher.
The title of Lord Colville of Culross was created in the Peerage of Scotland in 1604 for Sir James Colville, with remainder to his heirs male whatsoever. The title descended among his male heirs until the death of his grandson, the fourth Lord, in c. 1680. He was succeeded by his fourth cousin Alexander Colville, the fifth Lord. His grandson, the seventh Lord, was a distinguished naval commander. His nephew, the ninth Lord, was an Admiral of the White and also sat in the House of Lords as a Scottish representative peer from 1818 to 1849. He was succeeded by his nephew, the aforementioned tenth Lord, who was elevated to a viscountcy in 1902.Admiral Sir Stanley Colville (1861–1939) was the second son of the 1st Viscount. The diarist Sir John "Jock" Colville (1915–1987) was the third son of the third son of the 1st Viscount.
"Culross" is pronounced Coo-ros.
The family seat was Worlingham Hall, near Beccles, Suffolk.Viscount Craigavon
Viscount Craigavon, of Stormont in the County of Down, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1927 for Sir James Craig, 1st Baronet, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. He had already been created a baronet, 'of Craigavon, in the County of Down' in 1918. As of 2017, the titles are held by his grandson, the third Viscount, who succeeded his father in 1974. He is one of the ninety elected hereditary peers that remain in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, and sits as a crossbencher.
The family seat was Craigavon House, near Belfast, County Antrim.Viscount Tenby
Viscount Tenby, of Bulford in the County of Pembroke, is a hereditary title in the peerage of the United Kingdom, created in 1957 for former Home Secretary, the Hon. Gwilym Lloyd George, second son of Prime Minister David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor (see Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor for earlier history of the family).
As of 2017 the title is held by his younger son, the third Viscount, who succeeded his elder brother in 1983. Lord Tenby was one of the ninety elected hereditary peers to remain in the House of Lords after the House of Lords Act 1999, sitting as a crossbencher until he stood down from parliament in 2014 (being replaced by the Lord Mountevans).
As a grandson of the first Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, he is also in remainder to this peerage and its subsidiary titles.