Councils in England are to be given new powers to prevent the building of homes in gardens - so-called "garden-grabbing" - if local people object.
In a heated discussion, the Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith and former Deputy Prime minister John Prescott, debated the coalition's plans.
Mr Goldsmith criticised the current system, which designates gardens as brownfield sites, as "totally anti-democratic" and suggested "there are other alternatives".
"If you lump gardens and wasteland in the same category, developers will always go for gardens because it's easier and cheaper," he said.
"We are not saying there shouldn't be development, there are other alternatives. There are a lot of empty homes."
But Mr Prescott, who introduced the original designation for gardens, defended his policy and attacked the proposals, telling Today presenter James Naughtie: "You have got to look at how many homes we need and where they will be built. We are desperately short of land.
"We are talking about the few people who may object to the house in their street that's going to be used for social housing.
"I'm talking about families who haven't got a ruddy home... we desperately need houses. Prices are far too high. It's the bankers who buggered up the economy, and oddly enough it started with housing.
"It's the old Tory policy spouted by millionaires, always for the few not the many."
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