IN the 50th year since his elevation to the House of Lords, Parliament has been paying homage to a man whose impact on race relations was as forceful as his performances on the cricket pitches of East Lancashire.

A bust of Lord Learie Constantine was loaned to The Upper House, to mark five decades since the sportsman became the first black man to be given a life peerage.

But Pendle was well ahead of the curve when it came to recognising his prowess - a blue plaque was unveiled outside his home in Meredith Street, Nelson, as long ago as 2011. He lived there from 1930 to 1949 while playing for the town's cricket side in the Lancashire League.

Indeed Pendle's MP Andrew Stephenson who was a prime movers in securing official recognition for Learie Constantine’s political achievements this year.

The Trinidadian was a wartime welfare officer for West Indian workers in Liverpool’s munitions factories before his role was extended to cover race relations with the government, unions and employers.

Once after a charity match in London, Learie and his family were refused lodgings at a hotel on the grounds of colour. He later won damages from the hotel and after the cricketer qualified as a a barrister he published Colour Bar, a ground-breaking book on discrimination. In the 1960s he became Trinidad’s High Commissioner and he also served on the Race Relations Board before his Lords elevation.

Lord Fowler, the Lords Speaker, said: "His arrival as the first black life peer paved the way for the many brilliant black and minority ethnic members we have in the House today."

Baroness Benjamin added: “He was a great pioneering Trinidadian who achieved so much on the cricket field and in his contribution to public life in the UK."