LABOUR MEP for the North-East Stephen Hughes has signed a petition which aims to "make poverty history".

Mr Hughes, and his wife, Darlington councillor Cyndi Hughes, signed the petition at St Augustine's Church along with hundreds of worshippers.

The petition will be presented to the leaders of the world's richest countries at the G8 Summit, being held in Edinburgh on July 2.

The local Catholic Aid for Overseas Development (Cafod) group organised the petition-signing.

The Make Poverty History campaign is a joint venture between charities, celebrities and individuals who want to raise awareness of people living in poverty and stamp out third world debt.

Coun Hughes said: "In a world where poverty kills 30,000 people every day, 2005 will be a year of unprecedented opportunity for rich countries to tackle some of the root causes of poverty.

"By chance, the UK has an extraordinarily influential role in 2005, and Cafod is behind a massive rallying call on the British Government to make poverty history by tackling unjust trade, debt and aid."

For further details on how to become part of the campaign, log on to the website