Lower salaries for "part-time" MPs who have other jobs are among proposals being considered by a far-reaching review of Westminster pay and pensions to be put to the public by a watchdog on Monday.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is issuing a consultation on a range of options over how much national politicians should be paid and whether gold-plated pension deals should be curbed.
But its chairman, Sir Ian Kennedy, warned MPs who want a pay rise that they were doing too little at present to show voters what they were doing to justify their taxpayer-funded remuneration packages.
He indicated a need to scale down the £13.6 million a year pension scheme which was "expensive to the taxpayer and out of kilter with the modern idea of where public sector pensions should be".
That could mean the end of a final-salary system that allows MPs to build up a £30,000 pension after 20 years and raising the age at which it can be claimed beyond 65.
Ipsa's research suggests that the present pay level is low in comparison with other developed countries' legislators - and with lawyers, headteachers and local council chief executives.
Any increase could prove unpopular with a public increasingly disillusioned with mainstream politicians and still angry over the expenses scandal, which Ipsa was created to sort out.
Sir Ian though told the Sunday Times that what was needed was a system that would "work for a generation" and not simply be an "immediate political fix".
"The biggest issue for us is the gap in understanding that the public have of what MPs do and the relative failure of MPs to explain what they do," he says.
Among ideas up for discussion are varying pay by the region represented, the salary level MPs enjoyed prior to getting elected and penalising those who have second jobs.
Ipsa's consultation document suggests only 68 of 650 have outside earnings - with just 10-14 of those earning large sums - but any such move would be highly controversial.
"MPs could say 'I intend to be a full-time or a part-time MP'," Sir Ian told the newspaper - though he said it would be for the House of Commons ultimately to decide on such a question.
Sir Ian said there was a difficult balance to strike in setting the remuneration levels.
"We don't want people to stand for Parliament simply because it would be a good way of making a lot of money," he said.
"Equally it's not in the public interest to have a package of remuneration which people look at and say 'I couldn't possibly afford to go there'."