Fifteen Tory MLAs will pay back some of the money they received for being a member of an Alberta legislature committee that hasn't met in nearly four years.

Party whip Robin Campbell made the announcement Tuesday afternoon following a meeting of the Tory caucus.

"We just felt that in talking to people that it was the right thing to do," Campbell said.

"This was not the premier's decision. This was a caucus decision ... People were willing to give the money back. We had a very good discussion. We have a very united caucus."

The amounts vary to a maximum of $6,000 — $1,000 for each month Premier Alison Redford has held office — depending on how long the MLA was a member of the committee.

The provincial Progressive Conservatives have been embroiled in controversy since the public learned that 21 MLAs from all parties receive $1,000 every month for sitting on the standing committee on privileges and elections, standing orders and printing, which hasn't met in nearly four years.

'Vigorous discussion'

There were signs that Campbell's assertion that caucus was united in the decision may not be entirely true.

"I'm going to say it was a vigorous discussion," said Lethbridge East MLA Bridget Pastoor.

Last week, Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman wrote a cheque to the legislature for $43,656.17. The total represents the 41 months he was paid for sitting on the committee plus $2,656.17 in interest.

Wildrose MLAs Rob Anderson, Heather Forsyth and Paul Hinman have also announced they are returning the pay they received for sitting on the committee.

Sherman wasn't impressed by the Tories' gesture, particularly after Redford earlier deemed any attempt to return the cash "a convenient stunt."

"You know for them to say one thing and then do another on the eve of an election and for ... MLAs to return $80,000, its a slap in the face to Albertans," Sherman said.