FORMER MSP and Yes Scotland chair Dennis Canavan has spoken out against plans to legislate for assisted suicide in Scotland, saying his children’s passing had shown him this was not needed to “ensure dignity in death”.

The former Labour MP who later became an Independent MSP, said he had “probably had more than my fair share of deaths in my family”. Four of his children have died, with three having suffered from terminal illness.

However the 79-year-old, who will speak to current MSPs about his experiences at an event in Holyrood on Wednesday, said his children all “died with dignity”.

Supporters of assisted suicide often argue that it can give those suffering from terminal conditions a more dignified death, allowing them to die at a time of their choosing.

However, speaking ahead of an event co-ordinated by Care Not Killing (CNK) campaign group, Canavan said: “I have probably had more than my fair share of deaths in my family, having suffered the loss of four children, three of them as the result of terminal illness.

“However, I found the standard of NHS care to be excellent and the standard of palliative care in our local Strathcarron Hospice was first class. My children undoubtedly underwent some pain but it was minimised by caring health professionals. As a result, my children died in dignity and I do not accept that the option of assisted suicide is necessary to ensure dignity in death.”

LibDem MSP Liam McArthur is spearheading what is the third attempt to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland, with a proposed Member’s Bill. He wants to make assisted dying a choice for adults who are both terminally ill and mentally competent, and insists there are strong safeguards built into his proposed Assisted Dying Scotland Bill.

Baroness Stephanie Fraser of Craigmaddie, an outspoken opponent of assisted suicide in the House of Lords, will also address Wednesday’s meeting.

She recently told how she was “deeply concerned that, with a state-sanctioned way of bringing about the death of the elderly, the unwell and the disabled, criminals and fraudsters would be able to take advantage of the most vulnerable in our society, without fear of consequences”.

And CNK chief executive Dr Gordon Macdonald said: “Assisted suicide is a counsel of despair for those suffering serious illness or who are disabled. Instead of investing in life enhancing treatments and services, the focus of policy makers becomes on how to help people commit suicide.

“Scottish Government suicide prevention efforts will be undermined with doctors and nurses being asked to facilitate the deaths of some patients whilst working to prevent suicide in other cases.”

He continued: “Perhaps most concerning is the risk that people who are vulnerable will come under pressure to end their lives from relatives or healthcare managers who have an eye on the costs of care and would prefer to either gain a large inheritance or make savings in NHS or social care budgets.”