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THE UK SECTION: THE MACE













The mace is an object of great symbolic significance, indicating the authority delegated by the Sovereignty to the Commons. It features in all major ceremonies and when the Commons conducts general business the mace rests on the table in front of the Speaker. When the House goes into Committee the mace is transferred to two supports below the table.
At first the mace was provided by the Sergeant at Arms himself. In 1649 the Commons ordered a mace at its own expense. The present mace which dates from 1660 has been in use since 1819. It measures 1.49 metres in length and is of silver gilt. Disrespect for the mace implies contempt for the House. Such contempt incident concerning the mace happened in 1976 when Michael Heseltine smashed the mace onto the table, because in a debate on the nationalisation of the aircraft and ship-building industries he was so angered by the Labour government's arguments. The following morning, however, he apologized for his disrespectful behaviour.


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