MPs should get a 9% pay rise next year as planned, the body overseeing their salaries and expenses has said.
Marcial Boo, chief executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), said MPs did an important job and should not be paid a "miserly amount".
Their pay will go up from £67,000 to £74,000 under Ipsa's plan.
The PM, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband called the hike unacceptable when it was proposed at the end of last year.
The Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour party leaders argued it would be wrong when public sector pay rises were capped at 1%.
But speaking to the Sunday Telegraph in his first interview since taking on the job, Mr Boo said a review of evidence had shown that economic forecasts were improving while MPs' salaries had "fallen behind" others working in comparable public sector roles.
The proposed £74,000 figure was now seen by some as being "at the low end", he claimed, adding that pay needed to be fair to attract good candidates.
"They are there to represent us all - to form laws, to send young people to war," Mr Boo told the newspaper.
"It is not an easy thing to do. We want to have good people doing the job and they need to be paid fairly. Now, that's not paid in excess but it's not being paid a miserly amount either."
Reforms brought in after the 2009 expenses scandal mean MPs are no longer in charge of setting their pay.
The watchdog has indicated it will conduct one further review of the pay rise after the election - as it is legally obliged to do.
But a spokesman said the authority was likely to "crack on" with the planned pay rise after the 2015 general election.
The one-off increase is part of a package that will see MPs pay more into their pensions, as well as the end of resettlement payments.
Ipsa says that overall the reforms will not cost taxpayers any more than the present scheme.
Chancellor George Osborne said the rise was not acceptable at a time when there was continuing pay restraint in the public sector.
He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "This [Ipsa's recommendation] is not the final verdict, this is not the final report, there will be a report after the election and I think that's when we're going to have to tackle this issue."
Speaking ahead of the opening of the TUC's annual conference in Liverpool, general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Everybody understands people need to get the fair rate for the job, but it's going to be particularly hard to swallow for most people that MPs are getting this increase.
"The vast majority of working people have been taking real-terms pay cuts for the past four years."
Dave Prentis, general secretary of the public sector union Unison, said it was wrong for MPs to get the pay increase when "people can't put food on the table or afford their meals and, in order to pay their bills, need to go to payday loan companies".