UK - The UK is to legislate for a "landmark reform" to the state pension system and push ahead with controversial changes to public sector schemes, according to the government's agenda for the next parliamentary term.

Addressing both upper and lower houses during the state opening of parliament, Queen Elizabeth II said bills to "modernise" the state pension system and change public sector schemes in line with Lord Hutton's review of the system would be introduced by 2013.

"My government will bring forward measures to modernise the pension system and reform the state pension, creating a fair, simple and sustainable foundation for private saving," the monarch said, echoing language previously employed by both pensions minister Steve Webb and chancellor George Osborne.

Joanne Segars, chief executive of the National Association of Pension Funds, said she was "delighted" by the confirmation, hailing the changes as a "landmark reform".

A single-tier state pension system has been a change long demanded by the NAPF, whose Foundation Pension proposals are similar to current government plans for a £140 (€173) a week flat rate, independent from means testing.

The changes would see the end of the state second pension, thus requiring pension schemes to stop contracting out - which the Department for Work and Pensions has said could be achieved through a statutory override of scheme bylaws.

Of today's announcement, Segars said: "This is another big step towards a simpler, more generous state pension that no longer penalises people for saving.

"A new system will take millions out of means-tested benefits and encourage people to take control of their own age by saving towards it."

The new Pensions Bill would also allow for the state pension age to rise to 67 ahead of schedule - with the increase envisioned by 2028, as previously announced in last year's autumn statement.

Additionally, a new Public Service Pensions Bill is set to legislate for changes to both the funded and unfunded public retirement system, despite several unions still opposing them.

Queen Elizabeth II said the changes would be "in line" with the recommendations of Lord Hutton's Independent Public Service Pensions Commission, which released its report a year ago.

Although the monarch made no direct reference to proposals to amend shareholder voting rights, the government confirmed that, as part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill being drafted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, there would be a "strengthening" of shareholder powers, allowing companies to be held to account over remuneration packages.

Reports have previously suggested the department could consider the introduction of a binding shareholder vote, with the Bill's publication due in the wake of a number of remuneration reports being rejected by shareholders, with Aviva's chief executive most recently resigning after his pay package was opposed.