THE future of tolls on the Severn Crossings is to be probed by a top House of Commons committee.

Monmouth MP David Davies said the issue is to be the first subject of inquiry for the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, of which he became chairman earlier this year.

He said his committee will look at how tolls on the bridges affect the Welsh economy, the amount of cash that is spent on maintaining the bridges and their future when they return to public ownership.

It will also look at the level of the tolls and methods of payment, the impact on tourism and the condition of the bridges.

“There are huge concerns from all of us that use the bridge not only on the cost to each of us as individuals but the cost to businesses,” said Mr Davies.

“We are getting closer and closer to the time it will be handed back to the government. We and members of the public will want to know what the impact on tolls will be then.”

Mr Davies said the committee will be looking at taking evidence from the Severn River Crossing Plc, who run the M48 and M4 bridges, as well as government ministers, business representatives in Wales and others.

Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East and a member of the committee, welcomed the move. Ms Morden has campaigned for a freeze on the tolls in the past.

She said the tolls could be lowered for people living in the surrounding area: “Like the Dartford crossing I can’t see why you shouldn’t be able to get a concession for those within a certain postcode area.”

Parliamentary under-secretary for state for transport Norman Baker told the Commons in June that the concession on the Severn Bridge is currently predicted to end in 2017.

The committee is looking for written submissions on the topic by September 3, with evidence to be heard in public in October and November.

For information on how to take part email It is hoped the committee will report back with recommendations for the government by the end of 2010.