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THURSDAY, JANUARY 21ST. HOUSE OF LORDS. AT the commencement of the sitting, of the House of Commons, the Speaker read a motion to the effect that the House would to-day re- solve itself into a Committee to consider the expediency of authorising the payment of money by Parliament for grants to Voluntary Schools, and the repeal of so much of the Act of Parliament as limited the grants to Volun- tary Schools in England and Wales. The motion was agreed to. In reply to Mr. Lough, Lord George Hamil ton said there was no fund in India which ex- actly answered to the description of a Famine Relief Fund. Certain taxation was imposed for famine relief and insurance in 1877, but the scheme did not come into operation for four years, and the money received since had been spent, for it was not intended that the taxa- tion fund should be put into a separate box and allowed to accumulate. The loss caused in the present financial year by the famine would exceed three and a half crores of rupees. Mr. Chamberlain, answering Mr. Maclean, said he did not feel justified in making a further appeal to President Kruger on behalf of the two Johannesburg reformers who were still in prison at Pretoria, since they refused to make an appeal themselves. The Home Secretary, in reply to Mr. Davitt, said the authority to shoot an escaping con- vict was given under the common law. He was considering whether any alteration could be made in regard to the weapons to be used or otherwise, so as to diminish as far as possible the chance of causing death. Asked by Mr. Lambert whether, in view of the famine and plague in India, he could see his way to remitting to the Indian Government the cost of the Indian troops engaged in the Soudan expedition, Sir M. Hicks-Beach said the two subjects were quite diaiinct, and he had no rtason whatever co suppose the Indian Government would desire that they should be coupled together. The Attorney General informed Sir W. Lawson that in his opinion the sale of liquor in the Houses of Parliament was not in accord- ance with the law, but that the provisions of the Licensing Acts could not be applied. He thought a short Act should be passed exemp- ting the Houses of Parliament from the opera- tion of the Licensing and Excise Laws. Answering Mr. Mclean, Mr. Balfour said the Indian Government were in no lack of funds, aad the Government did not propose to offer a grant from the Imperial Exchequer. Asked what course the Government proposed to adopt with regard to Scotland in view of the termination to the inquiry into the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland, Mr. Balfour said that in 1894 Sir William "Harcourt stated that the then Government were of opinion that the Scotch inquiry should not commence+until the Irish inquiry had ter- minated, and in the opinion of the present Government, the Irish investigation had not yet been brought to a conclusion. The Go- vernment proposed to appoint a Commission to conclude the labours left incomplete. Mr. T. M. Healy asked why no mention of the Irish Agricultural Rating Bill was made in the Queen's Speech. Was it intended, he asked, to make Ireland a grant proportionate to what England received under the Act of last year and if not, would Ireland be treated for the purpose of this special allocation as a separate entity ? Mr. Balfour replied that the position of Ireland in reference to the money due to her iu consequence of the English Agricultural Rating Act was Indicated in the Irish Suspen- sory Bill of last season. The debate on Mr. Dillon's amendment to the Address to the effect that the condition of the agricultural population in Ireland deman- ded the immediate attention of the Govern- ment with a view to comprehensive measures of relief, was resumed by Mr. James Daly. Replying on behalf of Mr. G. Balfour, who was kept away from the House by temporary indisposition, the Attorney General for Ireland said that as to the past year the information in the possession of the Government was that, although Ireland had not escaped from the de- pression of agricultural prices, yet there had been no such great decline there as had been represented. Though in the extreme west there were, no doubt, districts where there was ex- ceptional distress, rents had seldom been better paid than during the past year, and ejectments were lower than at any other time dur ng the past five years. The Government did not recognise anything in the condition of Ireland that would induce them to depart from the conclusion already arrived at respecting either the evicted tenants or the shortening of the judicial term. After some further discussion, the amend- ment was rejected by 189 votes against 125. Mr. Engledew subsequently proposed an 11 amendment in favour of the establishment of a Catholic University in Ireland, and the debate was adjourned.