I was asked in an earlier post whether peers have their favourite places in the chamber. Some benches are designated for particular groups of members – frontbenchers, bishops, privy counsellors – but otherwise back-benchers can sit where they choose. Members tend to gravitate towards a favoured spot. One cannot reserve a seat – it is first come, first served. Some members can take a somewhat proprietorial attitude and this can lead to a little pushing and shoving; overall, though, we are very civilised. If someone is in our favoured spot, we find somewhere else.
Finding a favourite spot has a number of benefits. It saves having to think where to sit each time one comes in. More importantly, other members come to associate you with a particular seat. If you are referred to in debate, peers look to where you normally sit. The choice of seat may have some strategic advantage. My seat of choice is at the end of the bench just below the very back bench. If you look carefully at the picture, I am in the bottom right-hand corner. Sitting where I do has three advantages from my point of view. First, by being at the end of the row, I am not hemmed in: I can come and go without disrupting others. Second, I get a good view of the chamber; I can look at the different parts of the House without having to turn round. Third, when I stand up I am right in front of one of the hanging microphones. This ensures that there is no problem with being heard.
Others doubtless have other reasons for their choice. Most peers you see in the picture are sitting where they normally sit. The only thing that would cause a major disruption would be a change of government. Labour and Conservative peers would need to swap sides.