Deputy Prime minister John Prescott has contradicted his own department's recently unveiled policy to free up housing land supply.

Under cross-examination by the OPDM select committee this week, Prescott reassured MPs that he would not abandon the sequential test, under which developers cannot build on greenfield sites unless they can show that all brownfield options have been exhausted.

Prescott said: "The sequential test is critical and we are going to retain that policy. It's a key to having more co-ordinated development."

"With the sequential test, we have gone from 55% of housing being built on brownfield to more than 60%."

But Prescott's statement contradicts changes to planning policy in the recently published Planning Policy Statement 3, which says brownfield or greenfield sites can be built on provided they have been earmarked for housing development in the council's five-year land supply.

Planning minister Yvette Cooper defended the draft PPS3 when she appeared at the select committee last month, arguing it would stop councils using the availability of brownfield sites, which might be difficult to develop, as a way of preventing the use of greenfield plots.

Prescott also defended ODPM's performance, which was heavily criticised by the select committee last month (3 February).

But he admitted that there was "not enough" co-ordination with other departments.