Britain will hold an in/out referendum on its EU membership before the end of 2017, the Queen formally announced during the state opening of Parliament.

The pledge formed a key part of the Queen's speech, written by the new Conservative government following its majority win at the 7 May election, which also included confirmation of a "five-year plan" for the NHS that will see it work on a seven-day basis.

Opening the speech outlining the Tory's plans, the Queen said: "My government will legislate in the interests of everyone in our country. It will adopt a one-nation approach, helping working people get on, supporting aspiration, giving new opportunities to the most disadvantaged and bringing different parts of our country together.

"My government will continue with its long-term plan to provide economic stability and security at every stage of life. They will continue the work of bringing the public finances under control and reducing the deficit, so Britain lives within its means. Measures will be introduced to raise the productive potential of the economy and increase living standards."

EU referendum promise

The promise of an EU referendum arrived to mark the first full Tory government for 18 years, with its former coalition partner the Liberal Democrats blocking any previous attempts to announce one.

Confirming the decision for an EU referendum, the Queen said: "My government will renegotiate the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union and pursue reform of the European Union for the benefit of all member states. Alongside this, early legislation will be introduced to provide for an in-out referendum on membership of the European Union before the end of 2017."

As predicted, Cameron revealed intentions to repeal the Human Rights Act and bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights instead. This is despite stiff opposition from several senior Conservative backbenchers as well as members from Labour, SNP and former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

The speech saw an announcement of a consultation rather than a draft law as Cameron did not expect the bill to be passed through the Commons with the Tory majority of just 12.

Queens speech
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, arrives for the State Opening of Parliament Getty

The speech set out the government's plans for Britain following its election win, including a promise to curb illegal immigration and an extension of the Right to Buy scheme to 1.3 million housing association tenants.

There was a promise to introduce a law guaranteeing no rises in income tax rates, VAT or national insurance before 2020. There was also the confirmation of one of Cameron's pledges on personal tax allowance, which means no one working less than 30 hours a week on the minimum wage will pay income tax.

Elsewhere, the government pledged to create three million more apprentices by lowering the benefits cap from £26,000 to £23,000 and there was confirmation of Business Secretary Sajid Javid's plans to ban strike action unless more than 40% of union members vote in favour of industrial action.

This is the Queen's Speech for working people from a one-nation government that will bring our country together
- David Cameron

Another key pledge by the Tories prior to the election was an improvement of childcare in the UK. During the speech, the Queen outlined plans to double the amount of free childcare for three and four-year-olds given to working families to 30 hours, a measure expected to save families around £5,000 a year.

The Queen announced plans to introduce further Scottish devolution and measures that will give English MPs more say over laws that only affect England, as promised following the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum, as well as outlining a "Northern Powerhouse" for devolution in other British cities.

The Queen also revealed the government's decision to ban the "new generation" of psychoactive drugs as part of the Psychoactive Substance Bill.

Prime Minister David Cameron described the speech as a "clear vision for what our country can be – a country of security and opportunity for everyone".

He added: "This is the Queen's Speech for working people from a one-nation government that will bring our country together.

"We have a mandate from the British people, a clear manifesto and the instruction to deliver. And we will not waste a single moment in getting on with the task."