Queen's Speech: Coalition unveils sweeping pension reforms as Queen confirms plans for 5p plastic bag charge

 

Political Editor

The most sweeping reforms to the pensions system since it was founded in 1908 were unveiled by the Coalition today in its final Queen’s Speech before next year’s general election.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg trumpeted the pensions shake-up as the latest stage of a radical reform agenda which had already seen big changes to education and welfare. They highlighted pensions as they answered Labour’s charge that the Coalition had run out of steam and had become a “zombie government.”

Labour attacked the Speech for having no mention of the NHS.  Pointedly, the Prime Minister and his Deputy did not mention the Government’s ill-fated reorganisation of the health service in their list of the Coalition’s previous reforms. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, warned that the Speech would not rise to the challenge of meeting “the depths of discontent” about the way the country is run.

Eleven new Bills were announced by the Queen when she read the Speech in the House of Lords.  They are:

*Pensions Tax Bill – to give 300,000 people who retire each year freedom to access their pension as they see fit, ending the requirement to buy an annuity.

* Private Pensions Bill – to allow workers to join new collective defined contribution schemes, pooling risks between members to give them greater certainty about their retirement income.

*Childcare Payments Bill –to give tax relief worth up to £2,000 a year per child to 1.9m families with both parents or a single parent in work.

*Recall of MPs Bill – to allow constituents to force a by-election if an MP behaves badly; would require the signatures of at least 10 per cent of registered voters in an eight-week period.

*Modern Slavery Bill – new powers to prevent slavery and human trafficking and to force perpetrators to compensate their victims.

*Infrastructure Bill – to open up access to shale gas and geothermal energy by allowing firms underground access without the landowner’s permission; to speed up major projects of national significance.

*Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill –to prevent firms stopping people on zero hours contracts working for other companies; to close the “revolving door” under which public sector staff  keep big redundancy pay-offs when they are re-employed and to give a fair deal to pub landlords.

*Serious Crime Bill – to tackle child neglect and strengthen powers to seize the proceeds of crime.

*Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill – to allow the courts to take into account acts of heroism in an emergency if people are sued later for negligence.

*National Insurance Bill – to simplify the system for the self-employed.

* Service Complaints Bill – to improve the complaints system in the armed forces.

The Speech confirmed plans for a 5p charge on plastic carrier bags in England from October next year, but this will not require legislation.  A similar charge already applies in Wales and Northern Ireland and Scotland is expected to introduce one later this year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before