Congestion on Britain's roads can only be tackled by bringing in tolls, a House of Commons committee has found.

Tony Blair's administration must either bring in widespread road-user charging or accept that congestion will rise, the Transport Committee said.

A Government study has called for tolls on the A1 by 2011, but it rules out public transport as a means of cutting congestion.

However, the committee said alternatives to car travel must be provided if charging was ever to be an acceptable proposition.

Bringing in tolls, like the one introduced in Durham City, "will be a difficult decision to take, and the assumption has been that it would be unpopular", say the MPs.

The alternative is more congestion and pollution, something the committee said was unacceptable.

The committee's views came in its report on the Government's transport investment plans which set out future transport initiatives.

It said the Government could not keep pretending that building more roads was the answer, while allowing car use to rise unchecked.

"This Government and future governments face a stark choice: change the way we pay for travel and introduce widespread road-user charging, or accept that congestion will rise and persuade the travelling public and business to accept this," it said.

"However, charging for use of motorways alone could lead to unacceptable levels of diversion on to already congested smaller, less safe roads.

"Any such scheme would therefore have to form part of a wider national charging scheme which radically changes the way we pay for travelling by car."

Shadow Transport Secretary Tim Collins said more penalties should not be slapped on already hard-pressed motorists.

Driving was not a sin, he added, saying that congestion had increased because of a lack of road building.

Tolls would represent a form of taxation and this "can only further damage our economy and reduce living standards", Mr Collins said.