LORD Brian Rix, the actor and learning disabilities campaigner, has made a deeply personal plea for euthanasia to be legalised to allow him to “slip away peacefully”.

It came in a letter to Baroness D'Souza, Speaker of the House of Lords, in which the 92-year-old Mencap president revealed that he is suffering from a terminal condition, and hopes Parliament will act “as soon as possible” to make it possible for people in his situation to be assisted to die.

Rix voted against an Assisted Dying Bill that came before the Lords in 2006, because he feared that people with learning disabilities might become unwilling victims of euthanasia.

However, he told D’Souza: “My position has changed. As a dying man, who has been dying now for several weeks, I am only too conscious that the laws of this country make it impossible for people like me to be helped on their way, even though the family is supportive of this position and everything that needs to be done has been dealt with.

“Unhappily, my body seems to be constructed in such a way that it keeps me alive in great discomfort when all I want is to be allowed to slip into a sleep, peacefully, legally and without any threat to the medical or nursing profession. I am sure there are many others like me who having finished with life wish their life to finish.”

As Brian Rix, the crossbench peer was one of Britain’s most popular TV and stage actors with his own brand of 'Whitehall farce' comedy. He later became one of the country's foremost campaigners for people with learning disabilities after his daughter Shelley was born with Down’s syndrome. Rix gave up a decades-long stage career to become a champion of those with learning disabilities, first as chairman, and later as secretary-general of Mencap.

He became a CBE in 1977, a knight in 1986 and a life peer in 1992.