6.52The arrangements for the seating of Members of the House of Lords are, in theory, governed by the House of Lords Precedence Act 1539.1

In practice, these arrangements have been modified for the sake of convenience in debate on modern party lines, with the Government and its supporters sitting to the right of the Throne and the opposition party or parties sitting to the left. Members of the House who are not members of any particular party usually sit on the Cross Benches or in the block of seating on whichever side of the House there is most space. The bishops sit together on the first two benches closest to and to the right of the Throne, in accordance with the Act of 1539. Thanks to the presence of the bishops, the Government's side of the House, to the right of the Throne, is known as the Spiritual side. The side to the left of the Throne, occupied by the opposition, is known as the Temporal side.


  1. 1. 31 Hen 8, c 10: Ordered to be added to the Book of Standing Orders by way of Appendix, 9 February 1825. Examples of the enforcement of these arrangements can be found on the following occasions: 20 January 1640, 10 February 1640, and 1 February 1771; LJ (1736–41) 572, 593; ibid (1770–73) 47.