MSP Liam McArthur recently won the right to introduce a Member’s Bill to the Scottish Parliament to permit assisted dying for terminally ill residents of Scotland. As philosophers with research expertise in end of life ethics, as well as extensive first-hand experience with physicians, dying patients, and their families, we believe that the McArthur bill represents a positive step to improve how people die in Scotland. We urge residents of Scotland and their elected representatives in Parliament to support its passage, and have set out our evidence-based case for supporting the bill in a position statement.

The majority of people in Scotland die of chronic illnesses with lengthy decline phases, such as cancer and heart disease, and for many of us, the best life will not turn out to be the longest possible life. For a handful of patients, the best life – and the best death – may be achieved by collaborating with their physicians to shorten their lives with the help of a lethal medication. As it stands, it is virtually certain that medically-assisted dying occurs now in Scotland, but without regulation or transparency. Far better, we think, for medically-assisted dying to be legally available to a small segment of qualified patients and carried out conscientiously and in the open by trained professionals.

Critics of medically-assisted dying often express reservations about medical professionals agreeing to help end patients’ lives. Such reservations are understandable. Under the McArthur bill, no medical professional, nor any patient, is legally compelled to participate in assisted dying. Some worry that legalised assisted dying will undermine our commitment to palliative care for the dying. However, research investigating this issue in parts of Europe and the United States where assisted dying has been legalised shows that such worries are unfounded.

Some representatives of disabled communities express the concern that legalised medically-assisted dying fails to respect the rights of the disabled. They worry that it will result in disabled individuals being subject to pressure to die, as well as conveying the message that their lives are not worth living. We too would have reservations if the law posed such dangers to the disabled community. However, the McArthur bill allows only the terminally ill to seek assisted dying and makes no reference to disability. We also note that polls show broad support for assisted dying laws amongst people with disabilities.

At the heart of the McArthur Bill is the fundamental ethical principle that competent, terminally ill adults should have the right to decide for themselves how to die. We welcome further discussion about the place of assisted dying in a just and compassionate society, which, we hope, will demonstrate that the bill’s essential provisions deserve the support of the people of Scotland and their MSPs.

The consortium will hold an event where it will officially announce its position at the University of Edinburgh on Monday May 22.

Professor Michael Cholbi, University of Edinburgh; Professor Ben Colburn, University of Glasgow; Professor Michael Gill, University of Edinburgh; Dr Joseph Millum, University of St Andrews, Professor Glen Pettigrove, University of Glasgow (Philosophers' Consortium on Assisted Dying in Scotland)

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End Ferguson Marine uncertainty

ONE of the defining factors in the success or failure of any company is surely "certainty". Yet one of the most troubled companies in Scotland is still facing an increasingly uncertain future.

Ferguson Marine, at the centre of the Calmac ferry saga, was "saved" by being taken into public ownership and we are waiting for the two ferries to be finally completed at an enormous cost to the taxpayer. The Scottish Government has now suggested that its ultimate aim is to return the yard to the private sector. Yet who in their right mind would invest in a company when there is no clear business strategy and the whole operation seems to lurch from crisis to crisis?

Taxpayers still don't know the whole story surrounding the Ferguson Marine debacle and this lack of transparency will do nothing to encourage new buyers to appear on the horizon. Let's have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in relation to Ferguson Marine. Only then will there be any hope of shipbuilding survival on the Lower Clyde.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.

The amnesia of Alex Salmond

NOT for the first time have I wondered at what point members of political parties have their sense of irony removed. I’m now wondering if, on leaving office, they have their memories wiped.

During the run-up to the Coronation, Alex Salmond took to complaining that the Stone of Destiny should not have been allowed to leave Scotland, and that Humza Yousaf should have called the police to stop it happening. At Glasgow Green last Saturday, he talked about subjects in London swearing oaths of allegiance to the Crown, while in Glasgow citizens were swearing an oath of loyalty to Scotland, whatever that may be. I’m sure that Mr Salmond has sworn his allegiance to the Crown on several occasions in his roles as an MP, MSP, First Minister and Member of the Privy Council.

As far as his amnesia is concerned, before the 2014 referendum, Mr Salmond assured No voters, who might worry about this sort of thing, that a Yes vote would not mean getting rid of the monarchy any time soon. This was also the man who wrote an alternative Queen’s Speech about what policies would be being delivered in a newly-independent Scotland. The queen in question was to be Queen Anne, our new monarch’s sister.

Margaret Johnston, Torrance.

• WITH reference to the independence movement's opposition to the Royal Family and wishing to become a republic, may I make a couple of points?

They are very happy to akin themselves to the "national anthem", Flower of Scotland, celebrating the defeat of proud Edward's army. However, it escapes them that he was defeated by a Scottish king, as were many of the English armies defeated in other battles.

The first king of the united kingdom was from the Stuart dynasty, and the subsequent Royal Family is descended from them. Also, from my memory, the Declaration of Arbroath asked the Pope to recognise Robert the Bruce as the King of Scotland.

So, why the rebellion against us becoming again, or remaining in, a kingdom?

John Russell, Airdrie.

AUOB march had less than 4k

YOU quote an organiser of the All Under One Banner (AUOB) event on Coronation Day as stating that there were "20,000" on its march ("Salmond demands 'independence' now", May 7).

A Force For Good filmed and counted this march in its entirety. We counted 3,726. We uploaded the video and released this information on Saturday afternoon in plenty of time for the media – as we do after every Scottish nationalist march.

We encourage people to count the march for themselves on our website aForceForGood.UK/blog.

The figure from AUOB, which you published without contradiction, has been exaggerated more than five-fold. Never in its history has AUOB ever come close to reaching 2k. The truth matters.

Alistair McConnachie, Director, A Force For Good, Glasgow.

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Indy would cost rUK

I READ Dr Gerald Edwards' letter (May 7) where he said that "the most obvious policy that will cost a gargantuan amount of money is independence”. And here’s me sitting thinking the opposite – that independence will be the making of this country and we will be a lot better off.

Mind you, he is likely right that it will cost a lot of money. It will cost rUK, that is. Which is why I don’t think Westminster will ever agree to a referendum. It fears the outcome. No Westminster government will ever want to be the one that "lost" Scotland.

Just for the record can I please repeat my request for anyone to write to your esteemed organ with a good, sensible, and cogent case for staying in this broke and broken UK? I’ve asked this one many times. I’m still waiting, and of course I do understand why. It’s next to impossible to do. Would that so many Tory and Labour politicos weren’t so obsessed with Scotland staying in the UK.

George Archibald, West Linton.

We must expand school counselling

AS a coalition of organisations who support vulnerable children and young people, we very much support this week's report from the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland that children should be able to access school counsellors outwith school hours and during the holidays to combat increasing mental health issues.

In addition to this, the Scottish Government should expand school counselling provision to all primary and special schools in Scotland, and all local authorities should have clear waiting times for children who want to access services, with child-friendly information provided.

School counsellors are incredibly important as they allow young people with mental health issues the opportunity to get the help they need quickly, without having to wait until their condition potentially deteriorates even further.

Children have the right to the best possible health, including mental health, and with already-overstretched mental health services under even more pressure because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis, increased counselling services are vital.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition: Kenny Graham, Falkland House School; Lynn Bell, LOVE Learning; Stephen McGhee, Spark of Genius; Niall Kelly, Young Foundations, Edinburgh.