SCOTLAND'S pro-UK parties yesterday welcomed a new poll showing a majority of voters favour a straightforward Yes/No vote in the independence referendum.

The survey found 53% of Scots would prefer a single question on the ballot paper in 2014 compared with 41% who want an extra option on handing Holyrood greater powers. Six per cent did not express a view.

The findings differed significantly from previous polls that suggested most Scots wanted to choose from a range of options.

They came amid growing speculation the SNP leadership is preparing to abandon efforts to include a second question in return for UK Government concessions on the referendum voting age.

Last night, Labour and the Conservatives said the poll increased pressure on First Minister Alex Salmond to rule out the second question.

Scottish Labour's constitutional affairs spokeswoman Patricia Ferguson said: "It is good to see growing support for a single, clear-cut question everyone can accept is fair. People are seeing through Alex Salmond's smoke and mirrors.

"The fundamental question Scotland needs to settle is whether we are part of the United Kingdom or whether we leave: whether we are in or out."

Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: "Scotland deserves to have her say in a fair, legal and decisive referendum. The SNP has the opportunity to agree the terms of such a referendum and the people of Scotland are wondering why it hasn't already done so."

The Progressive Scottish Opinion poll of 1177 voters was conducted between Tuesday and Thursday of last week, just after Scottish and UK ministers resumed their faltering talks on the referendum format.

The UK Government is offering to hand Holyrood special legal powers, known as a Section 30 Order, to protect the referendum against a possible court challenge – but on condition the SNP holds a straightforward Yes/No poll as originally promised in its election manifesto.

So far, the stipulation has led to deadlock as the SNP has invited charities, churches and trade unions to develop a devo-max option for the referendum.

However, there were signs of deal yesterday. UK Government sources indicated they were willing to accept the Nationalists' demand for 16 and 17-year-olds to vote on Scotland's future, while senior SNP insiders said they could drop their backing for a two-question poll.

Publicly, Alex Salmond's spokesman said a more-powers option would continue to be "carefully and properly considered" by ministers.

Privately, senior Nationalists accepted the single-question format could prevail and were preparing to target disillusioned devo-max supporters as potential pro-independence voters.

One said: "If there isn't a more-powers question because it has been vetoed by Westminster then supporters of devo-max will realise the only way to achieve those powers is with independence."

The two sides have until October 22 to reach agreement or they risk delaying the referendum.

The First Minister's spokesman said: "The UK Government has to understand the terms and timing of the referendum must be decided in Scotland, by the Scottish Parliament, not dictated by Westminster, and that includes a possible 'more powers' option."

Former chancellor Alistair Darling, chairman of the cross-party Better Together campaign, said: "The SNP promised a single-question referendum in their manifesto. What is it waiting for?"