Rishi Sunak needs to reform current vehicle excise duty rules (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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The motor car drives ­otherwise sane people quite mad.

It’s more than a mode of transport. It’s a status symbol, a personal statement, a secure body-space.

The car has replaced the home as the Englishman’s castle. Dare to invade it at your peril!

So here goes. With the advent of electric vehicles, income from fuel duty will collapse, leaving a £40billion hole in the public finances.

Road pricing – pay per mile – is under active consideration by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. It is deeply unpopular with motorists – and 78% of readers who took part in a Mirror poll.

Nobody likes to pay taxes, but unthinking hostility to this idea misses the point. Drivers are paying taxes already – 58p on every litre of petrol.

This brings in a quarter of the annual budget for the NHS. Where will this money come from, without some form of taxation on motorists?

Road pricing would bear unequally on the poor and people living in rural areas. But there could be exemptions for key workers, an entitlement of say 3,000 free miles and lower rates for off-peak journeys.

And the cash raised could be allocated to better public transport, replacing the billions stolen by the Tories from buses and trains.

You may say I have no skin in the game because I am one of the 25% of the population that doesn’t have a driving licence. I have never owned or driven a car.

But like millions of others, I have been exposed to the lethal air pollution of 32 million of them crowding the roads, and contributing to the early death of up to 40,000 people annually.

That’s a Covid-19 killing spree every year, and it has to stop.

Chancellor Sunak has an opportunity to chart a way forward in his spending review next week. He should open a public debate about road pricing.

At least let’s have a grown-up ­conversation about this critical issue.

Daily Mirror news