The Birmingham Municipal Bank Regulations 1919, Regulation Number 19 authorised "By whom deposits may be made" and allowed that "Deposits may be made by and in the name of .... A minor of the age of seven years or upwards" and "Deposits may be made on behalf and in the name of .... A minor under seven years of age, by one of the parents of such minor, or by any other person".
Although this Regulation thus defined a child under the age of seven as a "Minor", Regulation 35, which detailed the procedure to be followed in the case of a request to make a withdrawal from such an account used the term "Infant":
"35. Withdrawals from Accounts of Infants.
(1) An application for the withdrawal of money deposited by or in the name of an infant may be made by such infant if of the age of seven years or upwards.
(2) Upon such application, payment may be made to such infant, and his receipt shall be a good discharge to the Corporation for the amount paid to him.
(3) Where it is proved to the satisfaction of the Committee of Management that any sums in the name of an infant under the age of seven years are urgently needed for the maintenance, education, or benefit of such infant, or that from any other circumstances it is expedient to pay such sums or part thereof, the Committee of Management may authorise the payment of such deposits or any part thereof to any person who may satisfy the Committee of Management that he will apply such money for the benefit of such infant, and the receipt of such person shall be a good discharge to the Corporation for sums so paid."
In the Bank's early days the phrase "proved to the satisfaction of the Committee of Management" in Part (3) of the Regulation was interpreted so as to require all withdrawals made on behalf of Minors to be sanction by the Committee. In most cases the formal sanction of the Committee to confirm the action taken by the General Manager was straightforward, in other cases the Committee added a condition.
Three cases considered at the Finance and House Purchase Sub-Committee held on December 14th 1925 are typical examples:
The General Manager reported that an application had been made by the mother of an infant (Henry Seager - Account J. 9591) to withdraw money standing to the credit of such infant amounting to £297. 16. 8. in order that National Savings Certificates could be purchased for the latter.
RESOLVED:- That the request be acceded to on the understanding that the General Manager obtain the necessary certificate in question, and hand over the same to Mrs Seager.
An application was also submitted from Mr Arthur Stevenson for the transfer to his own and his wife's account of the sum of 15/- standing to the credit of their infant son Reginald Stevenson (Account A. 10750).
RESOLVED:- That the application be acceded to.
The General Manager reported that in the case of Doreen L Wassall (an infant whose account had been opened by her Grandfather he had seen the latter with reference to the suggested transfer of the amount in question to an account of another member of the family but as he was not satisfied with the explanation made he had taken no action in the matter at present, and was waiting an opportunity of conferring with the Father of the child.
RESOLVED:- That the matter be left in the hands of the General Manager to take such steps as he may consider desirable.
With the number of withdrawal applications increasing as the Bank's overall number of accounts increased, it became necessary for the Committee to 'rubber stamp' cases as minuted for the following meetings of the Finance Sub-Committee:
February 14th 1927:
The Sub-Committee were informed that in 60 cases payments had been made during January from the Accounts of Minors under Regulation 42 amounting to a total sum of £140. 6. 4.
July 11th 1927:
The General Manager submitted particulars of withdrawals from the accounts of minors in 50 cases where payments under £5 had been authorised by the Branch Managers and in three cases where special circumstances had prevailed and larger payments had been made.
RESOLVED:- That the payments from the accounts of minors above referred to be approved.
Allowing branch managers to authorise smaller payments reduced the requirement for every individual case to be referred to the Management Committee, and gradually more authority was delegated to branch managers, although the wording of the relevant Regulation (amended in 1930) only specified that the Committee 'may authorise the payment'. This wording remained unchanged through subsequent issues of the Regulations.
"(3) The Committee of Management may authorise the payment of any sum in the name of a minor under the age of seven years to any person upon being satisfied that such person will apply such sum for the benefit of the minor, and the receipt of such person shall be a good discharge to the Corporation for sums so paid."
On reaching the age of seven years, withdrawals on a minor's account could only be made on the signature of the minor. Parents could prevent such withdrawals by not disclosing the existence of the account and passbook. However, although the Bank was obliged to pay a minor's request for a withdrawal, it had a general responsibility to ensure that sums withdrawn were for a genuine purpose. As the following case (referred by the General Manager to the March 8th 1926 meeting of the Finance & House Purchase Sub-Committee) shows, it was difficult to intervene where doubt existed as to the basis of a withdrawal request. The case also shows how the Bank, as a Corporation Department, utilised the legal advice of the Town Clerk.
Account M6260 - B W Cullumbine
This account is that of a minor who attained his seventh birthday on the 12th February last. His father attended at Saltley Branch, with the boy, and made application to withdraw the sum of £5, and stated he would require a further £20 for which notice would be given. Payment was refused pending consideration of the matter by the Committee.
The boy's mother died on January 1st 1925, and just before her death handed the above pass book to her sister (Mrs Louisa Farrell) with the request that she would hold the book as the amount of £100 deposited therein was put there by her for the benefit of the boy in after life. Mrs Farrell stated the boy's father was addicted to drink and wished to get control of the account and would spend the money in drink. Mrs Farrell made a written declaration on the 6th January 1925 bearing out the above statement.
On the 28th February 1925 Mr Cullumbine called at Head Office with his sister (Mrs Jones) and applied for the pass book. He admitted his past drinking habits but said he was reformed. The Branch Manager at Saltley (Mr Martin) in a written statement of what transpired between Mrs Cullumbine and himself at the time of opening the account, bears out Mrs Farrell's statement.
On the 2nd July 1925 Mr Cullumbine wrote applying for the boy's pass book, and stated that he withdrew £34 in June, 1924 from the Post Office at his wife's wish, to be put in the Municipal Bank. This sum was duly deposited in an account for Mrs Cullumbine (No. 6146) which was opened on May 19th 1924 with a deposit of £136. Withdrawals were made from this account by Mrs Cullumbine during lifetime until at the time of her death only £22/9/9 (including interest) remained, and this balance was paid to Mr Cullumbine in January 1925. Included amongst the withdrawals was an item of £100 on December 6th 1924.
The General Manager felt he could not legally refuse the father's application, and after consulting the Town Clerk, who agreed with his view, the General Manager sent the pass book to Mr Cullumbine, but gave instructions that no payment must be made without the authority of the Committee.
Mr Cullumbine writes on the 5th instant, saying his wife had no money of her own and that the moneys placed in the Bank represented the surplus obtained from money given for housekeeping purposes, and claiming that any such moneys belonged to him on her death. The transfer of £100 from his wife's account to his son's account took place in the presence of the wife's two sisters but without his knowledge or consent, and Mr Cullumbine says when he found out what had happened his wife expressed her regret. He forwards the boy's Birth Certificate and as the boy is over seven years of age wishes the withdrawals to take place so that he (the father) may better clothe him and also pay certain sums owing for food and maintenance.
The General Manager has directed that £5 may be paid on Monday night on the boy's own signature, and told Mr Cullumbine that the decision of the Committee would be taken on Monday as regards future transactions.
The Town Clerk points out that although the Committee have a certain discretion in making payment to a minor over seven years of age, if an application is made for withdrawal it is impracticable for the Bank to be concerned in any matter of a domestic nature, which is really what this case amounts to.
After considering the General Manager's report, the Finance & House Purchase Sub-Committee
RESOLVED:- That the General Manager be requested to see Mr Cullumbine regarding his son's account, and to make such arrangement as regards withdrawal as he deems advisable.
Examples of cases dealt with by
the Bank's Management, where the account holder was below the age of seven, were considered at a meeting of the Finance Sub-Committee
on October 12th 1925.
I D Ward, Infant
Application has been made by the father and mother of this infant to withdraw the sum of £50 from the account of the child at the Balsall Heath Branch.
The object of the father and mother was to furnish a bedroom completely so that the child could be more satisfactorily accommodated.
As the child is only 6 years of age it became necessary to decide whether such a payment could be made, and the Town Clerk's opinion was sought on the matter. He gave the ruling that under Regulation 42 (3) it was entirely a matter for the Committee to decide whether the payment could be judged to be for the benefit of the infant.
Mr Ward saw me on the matter and explained that he had committed himself to an expenditure in furniture to the extent of £130, including the bedroom suite for the child's room, that he had paid a deposit of £30, and that the Furniture Dealers would not deliver any portion of his order until he had placed with them more money. The Furniture Dealers explained that they themselves were in financial difficulties and they must hold him to his undertaking and require him to pay the money without further delay.
The manner in which the account has been built up in deposits in this case indicates that there is not much fear of the money being trust money and the father explained that he was systematically saved money through this account for the express purpose of buying this furniture, and he was not aware that he would meet with any difficulty in giving notice to withdraw it.
Both Mr and Mrs Ward are in agreement in this matter, and have given an indemnity to the Bank in case of any subsequent claim for the payment. The payment has accordingly been made.
RESOLVED:- That the action of the General Manager in making the payment above referred to be confirmed.
Account Doreen L Wassall, Infant
Application has been made to withdraw the sum of £25 from this account. The applicant is the grandfather, Mr J P Wassall who opened the account with the sum of £25 on the 7th September 1925.
The reason given for now wishing to withdraw the sum is that there has been some friction with the child's parents which upset him, and he asked that the sum might be withdrawn and another account opened in his son's name instead of his granddaughter.
The decision of the Committee is requested.
RESOLVED:- That the application above referred to be acceded to.