Gordon Brown has set out the "long-term changes" he thinks the UK needs, in his first Queen's Speech as prime minister.
New anti-terror measures - including post-charge questioning of suspects - are among 29 bills in the programme.
Other measures on climate change, health, nuclear power, education and housing "would help prepare and equip our country for the future".
But Tory leader David Cameron accused Mr Brown of "stealing" and "recycling" policies, and of "short-termism".
BILLS AND MEASURES
Terrorism - Post-charge questioning and possible extension of pre-charge detention beyond 28 days
Education - Raises age of youngsters in education or training to 18
Energy - Bill paving the way for new generation of nuclear power plants
Climate change - New powers to meet target of cutting CO2 by 60% by 2050
Constitutional reform - Give MPs formal say over going to war
Health - New regulator with power to fine hospitals which fail to meet hygiene standards
Work: Consider extending flexible working to parents of older children
The prime minister was hoping that his plans for the year ahead - delivered by the Queen in Parliament amid the traditional pomp and ceremony - would help him regain the political initiative after his decision not to call an autumn election.
The package of measures was intended to meet "the rising aspirations" of the British people.
An Education and Skills Bill will allow it to be made compulsory for all 16 to 18 year olds in England to be in education or training from 2015.
A new Counter-Terrorism Bill will enable post-charge questioning of suspects and "allow the drawing of adverse inferences from a refusal to say something later relied on in court".
Convicted terrorists will also have to provide police with details of their whereabouts after release and will be banned from foreign travel.
The government also signalled moves to extend the right to request flexible working currently available to parents of children under six to parents of older children.
Giving his response in the Commons, Mr Cameron said he welcomed many of the bills in the Queen's Speech "not least because we proposed them in the first place" - including flexible working.
He accused Mr Brown of being "bereft of vision" and branded his first Queen's Speech "yet another re-launch that's yet another re-hash of short-term gimmicks and the same old thinking".
The Tory leader accused Mr Brown of stealing slogans from the National Front over his 'British jobs for British workers' pledge - and said he could not deliver the change the country needed.
"Say what you like about Tony Blair, at least he was decisive.
"Isn't it the case that the only real change we've had is to swap a strong prime minister for a weak one?," added Mr Cameron.
Acting Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable, in his response, accused Mr Brown of producing a legislative programme with no new ideas, saying the prime minister "cut a sad figure".
"Across wide swathes of policy his approach is indistinguishable from the Tories," added Mr Cable.
Mr Brown rejected the criticism and said: "On energy, housing, pensions, education, work-life balance, citizenship and anti-terrorism measures, the central purpose of this legislative programme is to make the right long-term changes to prepare and equip our country for the future and to meet the rising aspirations of the British people."
Turning to Mr Cameron's speech he said: "He may be good on jokes but he was pretty bad on policy."
In supporting documents released with the Queen's Speech, the government said it was still "considering options" for increasing from 28 days the limit for detaining terror suspects without charge.
Such an extension is opposed by Tories and Lib Dems, although the Queen had told MPs and peers the government would "seek a consensus on changes to the law on terrorism".
A Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill will introduce restrictions on people convicted of violent offences once they have served their sentences.
In other measures, plans for a new offence of inciting hatred against gay, lesbian and transgender people will also be extended to cover disabled people.
Other bills announced include a Health and Social Care Bill which introduces a single regulator for the health and adult care services who will also have the power to fine hospitals for failing to meet hygiene standards.
Measures already announced by the prime minister include a pledge to build 3m homes by 2020 - a Housing and Regeneration Bill for England and Wales will create a new homes agency to help ensure more social and private housing.
Plans to allow private companies to build a new generation of nuclear power stations - subject to the current consultation process and provided it is "in the public interest" - are included in an Energy Bill.
There will also be a Climate Change Bill with new powers to help the UK cut carbon emissions by "at least 60%" by 2050.
But planned legislation on party funding has been put on hold following the breakdown of cross party talks. New proposals will be brought forward "in due course," the government said.
Downing Street also reaffirmed its commitment to ratify the EU reform treaty through Parliament, without a referendum, setting up the prospect of an extended Commons battle with the Conservatives in the new year.