WASHINGTON - Today's Federal Register contains a notice from the Comptroller's office related to its controversial proposal to let national banks offer products through their operating subsidiaries that they couldn't sell themselves.

But the "Comptroller's Corporate Manual" being announced today sticks to streamlining the applications process and doesn't address the issue of letting banks sell insurance or underwrite securities, the agency's top lawyer said.

Chief counsel Julie L. Williams said the national bank regulator has "not made final decisions about how to go forward" with rewriting Part 5 of the federal rulebook on banking.

She said the agency is committed, however, to going ahead with the parts of the regulation that call for devising simpler, shorter forms for banks to fill out and guaranteeing a quick turnaround on applications for new branches, investments, and other activities.

Ms. Williams said "there isn't a timetable" as to when the full Part 5 rule will be finalized.

"We are concerned to the extent that there are questions raised about our authority to do certain things," she said. "We need to think things through."

The proposed Part 5 regulation was published Nov. 29, and comments closed Jan. 30.

The rule's provisions on operating subsidiaries drew criticisms from many quarters, and led the House Banking Committee to attach to regulatory relief legislation a moratorium banning the Comptroller from expanding national banks' insurance powers. The regulatory relief bill still must pass the full House and Senate to become law.

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