A Westcountry MP has said he will give a proposed 11% pay hike to charity.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) yesterday suggested MPs should get £74,000 from 2015, despite the rest of the country suffering austerity. All three main party leaders condemned the idea.
MPs turned on their regulator, which was set up following the expenses scandal, arguing proposing an extra £7,600 a year put them in an awkward position. Other public sector workers have had repeated pay freezes.
Former Cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, indicated he would not accept the more generous pay package if it was given the go-ahead.
He said: "You either support independent regulation or you don't. A return to the bad old days when MPs set their own pay and conditions, which led to the expenses scandal, would be a disaster.
"I'll wait to see what Ipsa finally recommends after the public consultation, but if it does impose a rise I will simply increase what I already give to Exeter charities and good causes by the same amount. I will also seek to ensure my expenses remain the lowest of any MP in Devon."
Ipsa defended the new package for consultation, insisting politicians' pay had to "catch up" after years of being suppressed.
The regulator said the £4.6 million extra salary costs would be offset by curbs to pensions, "golden goodbyes", and expenses – meaning the overall burden on the taxpayer would only go up by £500,000 if the deal took effect after the 2015 general election.
Research by Ipsa found that two-thirds of MPs believe they are underpaid. Many have argued the current salary is well below what they could expect working in industry. The hike would mean MPs earn roughly three times the national average salary – though wages in Devon and Cornwall are lower still. There is widespread concern about accepting an increase amid austerity and with an election to fight.
Gary Streeter, Conservative MP for South West Devon, said: "Most right-thinking people accept that MPs are under-paid. But it is wrong to even be discussing a pay rise during a period of austerity. We should be discussing this in better times, not when people are struggling.
"I'm pretty cross with Ipsa. It was nauseating to vote for your own pay, but perhaps Ipsa is not the right independent body."
Stephen Gilbert, Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Newquay, said: "After the shocking abuses by MPs in the last Parliament it is clearly very wrong for MPs to have any role in setting their own pay or pensions or the scheme for reimbursing their office costs and that's why those powers were, rightly, handed to an independent body.
"Like the rest of the public sector, MPs have had a pay freeze for the last two years and a 1% rise this year. All the decision-making over MPs' remuneration is now taken by Ipsa.
"Ipsa are now consulting on the future remuneration that won't come into effect until after the next Parliament and I'd encourage people to respond to that consultation."
Education Secretary Michael Gove said he would "absolutely not" accept the increase. "This organisation Ipsa, it is a bit of a silly organisation anyway," he said. "And as far as I am concerned, pay rise – they can stick it."