The Worthing West MP said that the annual salary, which does not include expenses and perks, should be higher.
The median salary in the UK is just over £31,000, according to the Office for National Statistics.
In an interview with the New Statesman, Sir Peter insisted that MPs should get paid as much as GP – about £100,000 on average in England.
An increase of £18,000 a year to MPs’ salaries would represent a pay rise of almost 22 per cent. The government this year offered NHS staff a rise of 3 per cent.
Sir Peter said: “I take the view that being an MP is the greatest honour you could have, but a general practitioner in politics ought to be paid roughly the same as a general practitioner in medicine.
“Doctors are paid far too little nowadays. But if they would get roughly £100,000 a year, the equivalent for an MP to get the same standard of living would be £110-£115,000 a year.
“It’s never the right time, but if your MP isn’t worth the money, it's better to change the MP than to change the money.”
While Sir Peter said he did not struggle financially, he believed the situation was “desperately difficult” for newer MPs.
He said: “I don’t know how they manage. It’s really grim.”
His comments came as ministers pressed ahead with a cut Universal Credit that charities have warned will plunge thousands of people into poverty.
Sir Peter said he believed the £20 benefit uplift – paid out to claimants during the Covid pandemic – should have been “tapered” off rather than completely removed from 6 October.
The MP, aged 77, is Father of the House as he is the longest-serving current member of the Commons.
Before he was an MP and serving in Margaret Thatcher’s government, he drove a lorry after graduating from University of Cambridge. He joined the Transport and General Workers Union and got into local politics.
He recalled considering stepping down from Parliament during the interview in 1982 because of financial strains.
His wife Virginia, with whom he had dependent children at the time, had given up paid work to run as a candidate on the Isle of Wight. She was elected to a different constituency in 1984 before she became a life peer in 2005.
Sir Peter said: “MPs’ pay was low, and I wasn’t going to go either broke or crooked to keep going.”
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