This was a disappointing result. I’d set out to find the answer, but all I had was more questions. However, the research journey I went on wasn’t a dead loss. I was able to learn quite a lot about the chambers and processes of parliaments around the world.
Most parliamentary chambers are semicircular, or horseshoe-shaped. This echoes assemblies in ancient Greece, which were often held in circular amphitheatres. The English, and later British, House of Commons has rows of benches facing each other, but most modern Westminster parliaments follow the horseshoe shape.
Exceptions include Canada, and Jamaica, but both of those have desks installed for ministers. Britain and Australia both have ministers sit on the front bench, deskless, and move to the Despatch Box when it is their time to speak. The horseshoe shape is also present in France, the United States and Germany, among many others. One school of thought says the shape promotes a more collegial, less antagonistic approach to lawmaking.