Can you guess what this parliamentary appurtenance is?

In the UK, we’re used to elements of the Palace of Westminster reflecting past goings-on. The two sides of the House of Commons are seperated by enough space to accomodate the length of two swords. And there are little red silk loops for each MP to hang their sword in outside the chamber.

So, what is this brass object (photo above) which is next to every desk in the Alabama State Senate?

Any ideas?

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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