Unionist peers have rounded on the Scottish Secretary for refusing to approach the European Union's (EU) governing body for advice on Scotland's future if it becomes independent.
Members of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee accused Michael Moore of leaving Scotland with "a blind vote" and adopting a "puzzling", "unsustainable" and "totally irresponsible" position of offering to address uncertainties while refusing to approach the European Commission (EC) for answers.
Former Tory Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth, an arch-critic of devolution and independence, suggested Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney had a point when he criticised the UK Government for not exercising its exclusive power as the EU member state to talk to the EC.
Fellow Tory peer Lord Lawson said Scotland is "perfectly capable of being independent" and accused Mr Moore of letting the nation down badly by refusing to explore the full consequences of a yes vote.
Labour peer Baroness Kingsmill described Mr Moore's position as "quite astonishing".
But Mr Moore argued that there was no need to speak to the EC given the amount of information in the public domain already, including a letter to the committee by EC president Jose Manuel Barroso which suggested Scotland would have to reapply to the EU as a new member state.
Mr Swinney told the committee last week that there was no provision in EU treaties to support Mr Barroso's view, a position echoed by former European Court judge Sir David Edward.
Mr Moore said: "We have not directly gone to the Commission. We have not seen the need to do that.
"We have looked at the broad range of evidence that is in the public domain already, but it was helpful that in response to your inquiries as a committee that we have got that further confirmation (from Mr Barroso).