BLACKBURN peer Tom Taylor has defended his place in the House of Lords despite neither speaking nor sitting on a Parliamentary committee in 2015

The 86-year-old said he voted regularly and lobbied ministers and shadow spokesmen regularly.

Lord Taylor, who claimed £29,100 in tax-free attendance allowances over six months last year, is one of 117 peers who did not speak in 2015, and one of 50 who claimed the £300 a day fee for turning up.

Between January 1 2014 and March 25 2015 he voted 73 times but has not sat on a Lords committee for more than a decade.

The former leader of Blackburn Council, made a Life Peer in May 1978, was suspended from the Lords for six months in 2009 after allegedly offering to help a business secure favourable changes in legislation for a fee in a newspaper 'sting' operation.

Blackburn MP Jack Straw as 'a valuable voice for Blackburn at Westminster'.

Lord Taylor said: "I only speak on matters on which I have some knowledge and experience.

"My voting record is pretty good.

"I was asked to join the Lords by Jim Callaghan because of my expertise in education but thing have moved in in that field.

"I regularly speak to both ministers and shadow ministers in the lobbies about issues.

"As well as voting that is what the job is about.

"To be effective in the House of Lords you don't have to make a lot of noise."

Mr Straw said: "Lord Taylor is a valuable extra voice for Blackburn at Westminster in the corridors of Parliament but he is 86 after all.

"He votes regularly and and has given service to the House of Lord s for many years.

"There has been discussion of a compulsory retirement age for Peers but at the moment systems that you are life peer for life if you wish."

Pendle Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Greaves, aged 73, said: "I think Tom as a good example of political party lobby fodder.

"Until recently, you could not resign as a life peer.

"When I get to the point I can no longer play a full part in the Lords I shall retire as Baroness Shirley Williams, also well into her 80s, has recently done."