Alan Milburn, MP for Darlington, said the estimated 69,503 new jobs created in the development areas since 1981 had been provided at disproportionately high cost.
While regional aid to industry had been severely curtailed, a 1990 HMSO report put the cost of creating each job through the Regional Selective Assistance grant system at pounds 11,600, he said.
A written parliamentary answer by Robin Squire, Under-Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment, to Mr Milburn shows that London Docklands, established in 1981, has spawned 26,000 new employment opportunities. The estimated totals in the other nine areas that were set up or extended later were Merseyside 2,000, Trafford Park 8,231, Black Country 3,000, Teesside 6,025, Tyne and Wear 9,237, Central Manchester 750, Leeds 3,875, Sheffield 5,902 and Bristol 4,483.
A written Commons answer from Tim Sainsbury, Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Industry, shows a fall in regional financial assistance to industry from pounds 0.71bn in 1978-79 to pounds 0.57bn in 1991-92 at current prices.
In real terms, allowing for inflation, the figures represent much bigger cuts. Mr Milburn said: 'Since 1981-82, government spending on regional financial assistance has fallen by two-thirds in real terms. In the northern region the fall has been even steeper - 80 per cent . . .
'Billions have been frittered away on the UDC experiment. It's an absurd sense of priorities to allow costs for a few worthless property projects to spiral out of control while slashing assistance to the regions.
'The Government can't seem to add up. It makes more employment and economic sense to invest in manufacturing regions than in failed property developments like Docklands. Yet the one is being cut back while the other is being bailed out.'