THAT the road pricing scheme involves yet another layer of surveillance is reason enough for it to be rejected and set alarm bells ringing for everybody.

There is, however, an equally powerful ethical argument against it.

It is fundamental to this proposal that drivers must compromise their travel patterns in order not to incur punitive costs. It follows inescapably that this will impose restrictions only on those for whom these costs would be unbearable, leaving roads cleared for the wealthy to occupy at whim.

While it is an ugly reality of ill-distribution of wealth that the few benefit disproportionately to the many, a Government policy which so transparently restrains the relative poor while leaving the relative rich to behave with unconsidered indulgence, should be offensive to any fair-minded individual.

However it is done, restrictions should apply to all and equally - try for instance allocating a mileage or carbon allowance where travelling at peak congestion times consumes those allowances at a progressively faster rate. If you disdain the common interest and travel as you please then the system will return your contempt to you by say reducing your 20,000-mile-per-annum allowance towards 2,000.

None would dare argue in a modern world that money should empower anybody to behave socially irresponsibly and any piece of legislation which supports such recklessness is damnable scrap.