MICHAEL Moore last night called for urgent talks with Alex Salmond over the response to the Scottish Government's consultation on independence.

The Scottish Secretary, who wants to meet Mr Salmond "in the next few weeks", said the fact that 19,000 replies had been received – more than six times that of Westminster's – did not make it any more valid.

Speaking ahead of the closure of the consultation tonight at midnight, Mr Moore denied he was trying to bounce the First Minister into a deal on the referendum, and insisted there was now "consensus" on having a single question. "It's not about the numbers [of responses], it's about the arguments," he added.

Mr Moore indicated there would, despite Nationalist fears, be no strings attached to a Section 30 order, a parliamentary device that would enable Holyrood to hold a referendum without fear of a court challenge.

The Secretary of State made clear that such an order would have to be approved by both MPs and MSPs. "Section 30 is a very good process and will involve the two parliaments working together," he said, adding that both governments were "clear there should be a single question; that the Scottish franchise should be used; and that the process should be overseen by the Electoral Commission".

While senior SNP figures have expressed a personal preference for a single question, they have made clear that they would listen to Scottish views expressed in the consultation before coming to a definitive position. Also, while support has been expressed for the London-based Electoral Commission to play a role, the issue of it having a final say on the key wording on a ballot paper has been left vague – Mr Salmond has already said what wording he wants.

Asked if he was trying to bounce the First Minister into agreeing key issues before more talks had begun, Mr Moore said: "No, not at all. My remarks are based on public statements of leading figures within the SNP and the clear mandate they have secured.

"On a second question, we did not find much support for that in our consultation. There is a consensus on a single question. For a decisive outcome, you need a single question; that's where the broad mass of opinion in Scotland appears to be," he said.

In response, a spokesman for Bruce Crawford, the Scottish Government's Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy, said: "Mr Moore should respect both the consultative process and the fact that the terms and timing of the referendum are to be decided in Scotland – not imposed by Westminster."

He noted how Holyrood's consultation, unlike Westminster's, would be independently verified and thoroughly assessed.

"The Scottish Government recognises there is support across Scotland from individuals and organisations - for a 'more powers' option in the referendum and it is important this issue and all the other aspects of the consultation are given proper consideration," the spokesman said.

On the issue of the timing of the referendum, Mr Moore was asked about the quote attributed to Prime Minister David Cameron that he was "not fussy" about it. The Scottish Secretary made clear it was still the Coalition's policy to have it in 2013 rather than Mr Salmond's preferred timetable of 2014.

"We want it as soon as possible," Mr Moore said, adding he would be surprised if businesses had expressed a different opinion in the Holyrood consultation to the one they had expressed in the Westminster one.

Meantime, two groups – Devo Plus and the Reform Scotland think-tank set up by financier Ben Thomson – submitted their responses to the Holyrood consultation. Each advocated more powers for Holyrood short of full independence.

Mr Crawford hailed the response to the Holyrood consultation as "fantastic", adding: "Today is the final day of the consultation so there is still time for people to join the 19,000-plus people who have responded so far and have their say on Scotland's referendum."