by RAY FLEMING l DOWNING Street dismissed the government's failure to get its Racial and Religious Hatred Bill through the House of Commons on Tuesday by saying “These things happen”. That's better than Donald Rumsfeld's notorious ”stuff happens” but not by much. On Wednesday the House of Lords rejected a proposal to give the police power to ban material on the internet that could help terrorists. Both these measures were lost by a single vote. Mr Blair did not vote in the Commons and Baroness Scotland who was piloting the Lords measure was absent. The government appears to be in a state of disrepair comparable to the declining days of John Major's administration. It will take more than a reshuffle of the Cabinet to put matters right. Last August, before he began his summer break and while the Home Secretary was still on holiday, Mr Blair called a press conference and announced twelve new essential measures to meet the threat of terrorism that had manifested itself in London in the July bombings He said “the rules of the game are changing” and his proposals would take account of that; the two proposals defeated this week were among them. Six months later it seems likely that only five of these proposals will become law and even some of those have been watered down in the process of getting parliamentary approval for them. For instance, the measure to extend to 90 days the period during which suspected terrorists could be held without charge was defeated after a torrid Commons battle and amended to 28 days following a rebellion by Labour MPs. The ludicrous idea of creating an offence of “glorifying terrorism” crept through the Commons by one vote but is likely to be thrown out by the Lords. The plan to close mosques “used as a centre of terrorism” has been withdrawn in the face of both police and Muslim community opposition. If Mr Blair's twelve measures were essential to keep Britain safe from terrorism his failure to get them implemented is deeply worrying. But it is more likely that they were a package of badly thought through ideas rushed out to give the impression that the prime minister was not slowing down before he took his vacation. As such they have suffered the fate they deserved.