The level of “golden goodbye” payouts to council chiefs has been branded “completely unacceptable” by communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles.
He said the government could be forced to intervene unless councils reined in the deals offered to senior officials.
The issue was raised at Commons question time by Liberal Democrat MP Duncan Hames (Chippenham), who said the situation was a scandal.
He said: “Council taxpayers in my Chippenham constituency have been dismayed by golden goodbyes for council bosses since the move to one council for Wiltshire.
“Just four staff shared nearly £2m in remuneration in their final 12 months in post.”
Mr Pickles, left, told him it had been a “more than unfortunate feature of local government” for some time, particularly when chief executives leave with a payout only to find a post at another council.
He said: “It is completely unacceptable. If local authorities do not act themselves on this it will leave the government no alternative but to take the necessary action.
“But I certainly believe by allowing local authorities now, the whole council as opposed to a tiny cosy elite, to decide these matters on the floor of the chamber will make that difference.”