ESSEX MPs have criticised demands by colleagues to hike their salaries by a third to £86,000 a year.
Tory MPs John Baron and Stephen Metcalfe spoke out after an anonymous survey for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) found the average parliamentarian believed their annual wage should rise by £21,000.
According to the research by YouGov, 69 per cent of MPs thought they were underpaid on £65,738.
However, Mr Metcalfe, who represents South Basildon and East Thurrock, revealed he had refused to take part in the survey.
He said: “I do not think, and have never thought, that MPs should have a say in deciding their own salary.
“I did not want any part in that. It is a privilege to do this job and we are already paid a generous salary.
“That is what is important to me.”
Mr Baron, who represents Basildon and Billericay, also said he had never voted on his own pay or pension. H
owever, the MP of 12 years did respond to IPSA and suggested a complete overhaul of the payment system.
Mr Baron called for all expenses to be cancelled, and a proportion of the ensuing savings added to MPs’ salaries.
He said: “That has the twofold effect of reducing the cost to the taxpayer significantly and making the system much more transparent.
“Expenses have been clouding the issue for some time now.
“By removing that, we could once and for all increase public confidence in the system.”
IPSA’s initial consultation on MPs’ wages ended last month. Final decisions are due to be taken in the spring, with a new system not taking effect until after the 2015 general election.
On average, Tories said their salary should be £96,740, while Lib Dems thought the right amount was £78,361 and Labour £77,322.
One MP insisted they should get £40,000 or less, but a fifth of those questioned said they deserved £95,000 or more.
The overall average suggestion was £86,250. The research found 27 per cent of the MPs wanted their pay to go up by more than one per cent over the next two years - despite public sector rises and most working age benefits being controversially capped at that level.
However, nearly two-thirds supported IPSA’s decision to impose the same discipline.
The watchdog did bow to pressure by agreeing to reopen the subject of “golden goodbyes”, after 53 per cent insisted members should be entitled to tens of thousands of pounds even if they step down from parliament voluntarily.
The report said Ipsa was “not convinced” it was right to provide such pay-offs, pointing out that most employees did not get similar benefits.
But it added: “It is clear that this is a complex issue. The problem, and possible solutions, deserve further examination.”
The MPs’ feedback was met with disbelief by union chiefs, who accused them of living in “cloud cuckoo land”.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “MPs should get real about pay, this shows they are totally out of touch with working people.
“How can they think that they deserve a 32 per cent increase when the rest of the country is being told to tighten their belts?
“No wonder this research is anonymous, it shows real contempt for the plight of families across the country struggling to make ends meet.”
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, added: “Hiking politicians' wages at a time of pay freezes, benefit caps and necessary spending cuts would be completely unpalatable to taxpayers.
“To do so would suggest that there is one rule for MPs and another for the rest of the country. There is zero appetite for a pay rise for MPs, as borne out by the polling of the public commissioned by IPSA.
“Most people clearly think that an MP's salary is currently about right.”