GORDON Brown's response yesterday to public unease over whether torture has been used or condoned by British interrogators was welcome but perhaps insufficient. He said that guidelines used by MI5 and MI6 would be published as would “any developments and relevant information” arising from the allegations made by the Guantanamo Bay prisoner Binyam Mohammad about British officers' knowledge of his treatment. The prime minister has been slow to act on media and Conservative party calls for an inquiry into these matters, while insisting that the government condemns torture “without reservation”. Even now the action he has decided on has been put in the hands of the Intelligence and Security Committee which is hardly an independent body. Its first task, according to Mr Brown's statement, will be to “consolidate and review” the guidance on interrogation techniques used by MI5 and MI6 and publish them “within two months”. Why cannot they be published immediately? This will be the fourth or fifth review of individual questions related to the Iraq war, which started six years ago this week. With the last of British troops about to leave Iraq, when will the government announce the long-promised comprehensive inquiry into all aspects of events leading up to and during the war? The longer it is delayed the less informative it will be.

There is no reason why preliminary work on the inquiry's terms of reference, procedures and membership should not begin now.