CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown announced a drive to recruit 3,000 new science teachers as he made education the main plank of his 10th Budget.
He also unveiled plans to spend more on enterprise, transport and defence, but added: "Most of all this is a Budget for Britain's future, to secure fairness for each child and invest in every child."
Under the measures announced yesterday teenagers will have a new `entitlement' to study all science subjects at GCSE, Mr Brown said.
The move follows concern among educationalists over falling numbers of teenagers taking science subjects at school and a spate of cuts in university chemistry and physics departments.
As well as providing cash for extra science teachers, Mr Brown said he would make money available for after-school science clubs.
And he said the New Deal jobs scheme would be expanded to boost the number of highly skilled jobs from 9m now to 14m by 2020.
Mr Brown also announced changes to vehicle excise duty rates, to favour drivers of smaller, `green' cars and penalise owners of `gas-guzzling' 4x4s.
He also increased stamp duty exemption to £125,000 and announced a £970m shared equity scheme to help 3,500 first-time buyers on to the property ladder.
And he proposed measures to increase cash for Britain's elite athletes in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics.
There was also an increase in child-related benefits, while the personal tax allowance goes up to £5,035 from £4,895.
The Budget drew mixed reactions.
The Chancellor was accused of clobbering the working man by raising duty on beer by 1p a pint while again freezing duty on champagne and spirits.
Tony Payne, Brighouse-based chief executive of the Licensed Victuallers' Association, said: "It is nine years since duty was increased on spirits. The working man drinks beer and it is the working man who is hit again."
Yorkshire retailers condemned a move to increase duty on cigarettes by 9p a packet. John Abbott, regional spokesman for Retailers Against Smuggling, said it was another blow to traders struggling to stay in business as sales were hit by tobacco smuggling.
Hauliers welcomed the decision to freeze diesel fuel duty until September 1.
Simon Champman, of the Freight Transport Association, said: "It was very important that the Chancellor did not add to industry's enormous fuel costs by further increasing diesel duty."
But Chris Stern, of Paddock-based petrol retailer C J Stern (Oils), said he doubted that raising vehicle excise duty for 4x4s would affect car-buying habits, adding: "It is a token gesture to appease the green lobby. If he was serious about changing driving habits he would have caned them a lot harder."
The Aspley-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce welcomed measures to help working families with childcare problems and proposals to boost workers' skills.
But it said a move to abolish the zero tax rate would mean extra corporation tax for companies with profits of less than £50,000.
Pharmacy chain Superdrug, which has a store on The Piazza in Huddersfield, claimed a victory for its campaign as the Chancellor cut VAT on condoms to 5% from 17.5%.
Measures to support childcare and increase investment on schools were welcomed by the TUC - but general secretary Brendan Barber warned that Mr Brown's public sector efficiency targets could not be met without `real cuts' in public services.