VETERAN Crewe and Nantwich Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody is urging the Government to consider tolls on busy motorways and road charges in big cities in a bid to halve congestion.
She chairs the Commons Transport Committee which is now saying that road pricing is the best way to tackle congestion and the Government must not duck its responsibility for imposing tolls on the busiest roads.
Mrs Dunwoody said traffic was expected to grow by a staggering rate in the UK, which has the worst levels of congestion in Europe.
She stated: 'Road pricing is not pie in the sky. Local authorities should decide whether urban charging schemes would reduce congestion on local roads but motorways and trunk roads are under Government control and they must not duck their responsibility for charging on the most congested parts of the network.'
She added: 'We face a stark choice between a gridlocked road system or changing the way we pay for road use.'
But the committee urged the Government not to rush into plans for an expressway along the M6 between Birmingham and Manchester without a proper study.
The committee's MPs say the existing M6 toll road has proved successful but warn that it would be a costly experiment if the Government had to buy out the firm which runs it. And they say that while congestion charges have worked in London, ministers must not bully local councils into accepting them.
A national road pricing system could move away from the current system of motoring taxes.
The MPs suggest a phased introduction of small-scale road charging schemes on trunk roads and in urban areas.
But they say this should be one part of a package of measures, including public transport and road improvements.
The MPs cautioned against commissioning more privately operated toll roads like the M6 toll, run by private operators. They said that a number of different pricing systems could be a 'recipe for disaster'.