RUTH Davidson has claimed voting against an assisted dying bill in Holyrood without considering its emotional effects felt like "cowardice".

The former Scottish Conservatives leader was making her maiden speech in the House of Lords when she made the remarks this afternoon.

Ms Davidson, known formally as Baroness Davidson of Lundin Links, said her experience of having a child through IVF and having relatives living with dementia had made her reconsider her views on assisted dying. 

She told Peers that voting against an assisted dying bill at Holyrood six years ago had "nagged at her conscience ever since" and explained: "I come here after a decade serving in the Scottish Parliament and the reason I wanted to speak in today's debate is because I have voted on this issue in Holyrood and another private member's bill six years ago, and it has nagged at my conscience ever since.

"In truth the manner of that Bill's drafting was so poor that many of us, myself included, were able to strike down the text without ever fully taking on the difficult emotional or conflicting subject matter." 

Ms Davidson said that her experience of going through IVF to conceive, which involved many medical processes and the ability to "sift through donor material" had made her reconsider her opposition to assisted dying.

She added: "The second change which changed my thinking is to have watched a number of people close to me develop dementia, and to see the person that they were being consumed by a disease that strips them of themselves."

Although people who have lost their cognitive abilities would not be eligible under any assisted dying legislation, Ms Davidson explained: "Like IVF, this seems a tangential point as no one with a cognitive impairment would come under the scope of this bill.

"In fact, they would be expressly prohibited, but it made me consider that to have the body able and the mind slowly dissolve is one thing; for the mind to stay clear, and the body to be crippled in unendurable pain with the certain knowledge of a slow death outcome where the law says 'endure you must' goes beyond conscience." 

Ms Davidson thanked her colleagues and members of Parliamentary staff, joking that they would have to get used to directing her when she got lost on her way around Westminster.