Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): What recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza; and if he will make a statement. 
The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Mr Alan Duncan): The situation in Gaza is unacceptable and unsustainable. Perversely, the current access regime benefits Hamas and punishes the ordinary people of Gaza. In the last fortnight, I visited Israel and the west bank, as did the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), who also visited Gaza. We both urged Israeli Ministers to recognise that the restrictions are not in Israel’s interests and should be lifted.
Fiona Mactaggart: I thank the Minister for that reply. First, I am sure that my constituent, David Cole, who is currently in Gaza would like me to use this opportunity to thank those Government officials who eventually helped him to be able to get there. However, I know that he is concerned that the number of trucks going into Gaza is about a third less than the number that were able to go in before the blockade. I am glad the Minister has already made representations, but will he specifically ask the Israeli and Greek Governments why they will not allow unarmed humanitarian volunteers to deliver medical supplies to Gaza by boat, through the flotilla?
Mr Duncan: I thank the hon. Lady for her appreciative comments. It is the case that about 30 times more cement and 10 times more steel goes into Gaza through Hamas-controlled tunnels than through the crossings. At the current reconstruction rate, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency estimates it will take 78 years to rebuild Gaza. We put confidence in the conversations between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Quartet representative Tony Blair, which took place in May, and hope they can have a more successful outcome than they have had so far.
Mike Freer (Finchley and Golders Green) (Con): Is it not true that more people enter Gaza from Egypt than from the tunnels in Israel? What can the Government do to stem this humanitarian crisis?
Mr Duncan: My hon. Friend is in some sense right, although the tunnels are in Egypt, not at the normal crossings from Israel. The volume of goods and mostly people—[Interruption.]
Mr Speaker: Order. I apologise for interrupting the Minister of State. I have been listening to the Minister of State for 20 years, and I want to carry on enjoying listening to him, and I want to be able to hear him.
Mr Duncan: Thank you, Mr Speaker; we are halfway there, perhaps. My hon. Friend is right to say that much more comes in through the tunnels than through Israeli-approved access points. Perversely, that is assisting Hamas, which is something we would like to reverse.
Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central) (Lab): Six months after the Arab spring, what discussions has the Minister had with the Egyptian authorities about relaxing the restrictions at the Rafah border crossing to ensure that essential humanitarian assistance can get into Gaza?
Mr Duncan: That is primarily a matter for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I have not had any such discussions, but I have had discussions with Israeli Ministers. As I said a moment ago, I hope that the representations made by the Quartet representative, Tony Blair, to Prime Minister Netanyahu can ease many of the restrictions that the Israelis are currently imposing.